The road begins behind the lake, which looks a bit sinister. Every ten meters there are gunmen. The noisy old just drivable cars, scuffed motorized rickshaws, orange trucks with pictures from Indian epos, bounce on the road potholes. The houses are small, not completely built, only a few of them are painted, they stick to each other like overcooked raviolis… It looked like the construction of these houses began long ago, so long that they aged already and the walls of these houses seemed to want to collapse right now. A covey of extremely dirty children are staring at me with delight and curiosity from the door of one of these houses… Do they ever wash themselves? Uncombed, barefooted, in rags, snotty, but at the same time their facial features are beautiful and do not look childish… In my stomach I feel a strange languor and tension, as if something outstretched to them and blended, with all my body I feel a gentle attraction and a bitter rejection at the same time. I do not know why, but definitely I want to leave this place as soon as possible.
Again the Indian “Volga” style car with uncomfortable bulgy seats, again misery, total ruins and dirt. When we passed the residential area, I sighed with relief, surprisingly for myself.
There are rocky, but not tall steep hills right over the road, to the left there is a valley, mountains and endless rice paddies. Along the valley the creek is twisting amongst the rocks, it disproves all my concepts of the mountainous rivers as grandeurs, fast and boisterous.
– During the monsoons this river floods and becomes ten times the size – Shafi’s voice is as if behind-the-scenes.
It is cloudy, though the sun sneaks through the clouds. The far mountains are covered with mist, and it creates an impression that the valley goes nowhere and falls into the emptiness. I am staring at the border, where the valley disappears, and imagine there is nothing there, that this is the border, where the world I know ends, and I am on a small island surrounded with a bottomless obscureness from everywhere. In the same way, as one can approach the edge of a precipice and look down or at the horizon so far away, it is possible to hold breath and approach the edge of my island and look into the obscureness, the endless emptiness, which seems to be faceless, but it is only at first sight.
In some places there are peasants working the fields, and mostly these are women and teenagers that make the hard part, men only supervise. Interesting, what are the other men busy with?
– Shafi, why are there only women working the fields?
– Because this is the work for women.
– What do you mean?
– Women were always working the fields. Men only sell what women have made.
– But the work on the field is very hard, men can help women. Because on top of that women also do all home chores, care for children, why don’t they help them with at least some of their work?
His face clearly shows displeasure and negative attitude towards me. Here it is, this is his personality! While I am within the narrow path that is allowed for me, I receive a servile mug with a forced smile. As soon as I make a step aside and doubt something this person believes in religiously, I see immediately what he is like. The sincere behavior reveals hypocrisy, at last I face the reality, and this clash is so refreshing! The sprouts of real contemplation shoot out from the gap in the usual order of the world, they are based on real experience, and not on phantoms. As a result, there appears a true interest towards life, lively passion and captivating joy of investigating. What is more interesting for me – to live in this easy to understand, familiar, comfortable, hypocritical cardboard world, or to challenge the power that I was so religiously taught not to notice? The answer seems to be obvious, but the prosiness has a great power. Like a Siren with the sweetest voice, it lures, entices and charms you into a deadly dream, thus you will not remember where you have been going to.
– Ma’am, here everything is as it should be. All are happy with it and nobody is going to change anything. This would be against the will of Allah.
Oh yes, you cannot argue with it. When Allah or Jesus comes onto the scene, all that is left for me is to go into the shade, because I will not receive anything except hatred, protecting the commandments of the Gods – neither an interesting discussion, nor a description of experience, nor any sensible arguments.
Women in India are no more than just cattle. It is not an exaggeration and it is not possible even to speak about equal rights! These traditions are nurtured by thousands of years of ancestors’ distresses and they are so eagerly protected, that in India the wrong believer risks his life in the most direct meaning of this word. But for the moment I did not know about it. I also did not know that a man and a woman cannot even hold hands if they are on the street, any policeman can approach them and bash their hands with a truncheon. And this happens on the streets of Deli! So what can be said about all those innumerable small places in the middle of nowhere, where there is still the stone age, where you want to run away without a backward glance and forget as soon as possible what you have seen there.
If the girl is getting married, the relatives of the girl have to pay a dowry to her fiancée and the family, because now they will have to provide food for the cattle. If the family has no money, sometimes they cheat – the girl is married, but dowry will not be paid later. You won’t see in your worst nightmare what some families do in such cases, and it is in the present time! They burn the girl… This story was told to me by a rich Indian woman, who fights for the rights of women in India.
Here is one more horror story – it was broadcasted all over the world. Until now in India there flourish castes, and it is practically impossible to share your life with somebody of lower caste. One guy fell in love with a girl of a lower caste, and in spite of all efforts of his relatives, he did not refuse from the girl he loved. Their punishment was demonstrative – it was a public lynching in front of all the people of the village, in full conformity with the will of their Gods and ancestors. I imagine those kind and wise faces of the patriarchs, announcing the verdict – “hang them both”. This happens now – in our time. And I thought I lived in the world of progress and intelligence…
The comparison of a woman with cattle is not quite right, because a Hindu can be executed for killing a cow, while for killing a woman he will be jailed for a few years in the best case. But I do not think that women are victims of the Indian culture, mercilessly exploited by the wicked Hindu-men. Everybody spoils his life in its own way. A Russian man is breathing toxics and consumes alcohol, a European is sitting in his dull satisfaction, and an Indian woman chooses to be silent cattle and protects all the local traditions and raises children in the complete conformity the customs of the ancestors. Very often cruelty is mixed in people with sentimentality that turns into madness, escalated self-pity suddenly becomes strong hostility, and the suppressed position of a woman in India is accompanied with the fanatical worship of the mother by children. Somebody will find it to be a harmonious and balanced system, but to me this is just two sides of one and the same coin – it’s not worth choosing between two evils.
…Women in bright saris are wearing on their heads huge bunches of hay, nearly sheaves. Very thin figures, ideal postures, wrapped in bright green, pink, red, yellow, blue material, they move in a smooth and flowing manner over the dark yellow field with small islands of green springs of rice.
– Hello! – I could not resist to wave to the women and girls walking along the road. Stupid, of course… but what else can I do, if I want to express my feeling to them, and you don’t know any other way!
Their eyes and faces light up with smiles – incredible easiness, very pleasant… Interesting what will they think if I take their photo? Subconsciously I am waiting for no aggression, of course (because I am not in Western Ukraine), but they can be displeased at least… No, they stand in a row, tidied up their saris – all that with the same fun and pleasant seriousness, no fuss… it would be good for those walking penguins in rich clothes to learn from these women! They remain motionless, waiting.
– Ma’am, this is real luck for them. They have never been photographed, they know about cameras, but they only heard about them – inserted Shafi.
– I hope they are not afraid?
– No ma’am, how can they be afraid of YOU? – what a liar, all his phrases are constructed to soap down my feeling of self-importance, and he is quite successful at it. I already got used to being a dismissive and even bossy “ma’am”, but does he think it is so easy to catch me with these cheap phrases and a submissive voice? This hypocrisy is so obvious and I notice I start playing this game more honestly.
– Shafi, ask them, if something is wrong – I can pay them…
– Ma’am, you have already made a present to them to remember all their life.
Yes, these women produce a much better impression than the rich ones. Even the women of senior age look very pleasant – slim, serious, but not a trace of distress, apathy, sadness or satisfaction and definitely not dull. There is some special beauty in their appearance. I remember our women, working on the farms – always displeased and arguing, fussy, strong women with faces that reflect an unwashable trace of continuous concerns and irritation. And, of course, the home-brew vodka, samogon. The thoughts of our women caused discomfort, to hell with them…
I call them, change the camera onto the “play” function and show the photos on the screen. I can smell the scent of fire, soot and old clothes on them. Gosh, it causes so much of delight, bright white smiles, laughter! They push each other jokingly, roar with laughter, cover their faces – they feel shy. I did not expect them to be so active, I thought they were tired… because for me tiredness is always associated with distress and bitterness, but different for them…
One hour longer of pleasant, but monotonous scenery, and the road becomes windy. Pinewood grows up in the bright-green, velvety grass carpet. I love the pines so much! The scent of the galipot, the taste of pine needles, downy branches-paws… sometimes I nearly see the golden sheen that they emit, it mixes with the strong scent and takes your feelings far away – into your long forgotten childhood recollections, into the corners of the memory, or somewhere, where I am only going to be.
At last we come to a not so large round field with a view of a golf course, hills that look like giant green waves, turning into the low rocky mountains. This is the terminal car park, and though it is strange, there are quite a few cars, however, I do not see any tourists. It is not sunny, a bit chilly, and I go to one of the opened cafes, where there is in front a long wooden table and different chairs… Is it a foreigner? Looks like it. While I was walking, I already imagined him to be an attractive man. From my early age I always wanted to be in love, and I did fall in love with somebody, one after another, regardless of consequences. Sometimes I had a crush on such ugly monsters, it is a shame to remember it :).
I approached him, and as if he felt my presence, turned to me. Mechanical smile, trivial greeting, empty eyes, kind and indifferent expression on his face – this is just an ordinary tourist, with him you can discuss only routes and prices. I still greet him back and sit down next to him… Why???
– Where are you from? – the first in the queue of automatic phrases is spat out with a man’s voice.
Why always exactly “where are you from”, “where do you go”, “how long are you in India”… are they all made of modeling clay? Why do they never ask “what are you looking for on your trip?”, or “what do you think, why do these mountains bring such feelings for me that when I wake up in the middle of the night and do not understand whether you better get up and have a walk, or try to sleep again”, or… Well, whatever can be said and asked, if the heart is not a piece of cardboard and life is in there, but apparently, these hearts are from cardboard…
– I am from Russia – I smile, not so enthusiastically, but still force my smile.
(Now he is going to say – “Oh! Russia!”)
– Oh! Russia! I have never been to Russia. I thought all Russian girls are tall and strong, but you look more French. And I am from England. Have you ever been to England?
– No, somehow I’m not very keen on England. Especially now… – will he understand, or will he not? No, he did not. Now he will say – “yes it is all different here”, as he does not realize it’s only a dumb fool does not see that everything is different here…
– Oh yes! Everything is different here.
In general, this is the style of cardboard people communication – they exchange the phrases of the pattern “generally recognized” and “accepted to keep the conversations with aunties and uncles from old and kind Europe”. While talking with them, it is not recommended to look at their eyes – at these moments they do not express anything, which is nothing at all, and the feelings from such communication is not very pleasant, softly speaking. If you want to see emotions in a European, travelling in India, – show him a tasty sausage or some trinket, and his eyes will quickly light up, and you can imagine he now has some interest in life.
– People come here in quest of something, and in Europe people work, – he laughed for some unknown reason.
– I am not working any more.
– Working as?
Very smart conversation we have… I am looking at him silently, but nothing has changed in his eyes – just the needle of a gramophone switched to the next lane, because this one had a minor failure. What is the next question?
– Do you like Jammu and Kashmir?
– No, because there is too much tension in the atmosphere, all are afraid that at any moment a war can start.
(Only please do not tell me how it was here ten years ago…)
– Yes, ten years ago everything was different here. It was impossible to find a vacant place in Dal-Lake – so many tourists were here. And people came here not for three days, as now, but for a few months. We did not want to return home, our home was here, our paradise on the Earth, paradise for those that did not want to sit in the office, to make a career and wear a suit. This was the most romantic place in the world, where you could be you. We had crazy parties on the islands with the best deejays in the world… – he says, as if the best is left behind and now there are only the memories, and he really lives only when he remembers. Again it brought the stench of the grave. This is all, how would it be better to say good bye as soon as possible to this person without the current moment?… Something touched my back and with a weak echo it responded in my body. I turn back and see a guy approaching us and looking at me… I like the way he looks… as if he has no doubts he can infatuate… but not because he is self-confident.
– Oh, here is Denny! Denny, this is Maya, she is Russian, can you imagine that?
– Hello, Maya, – Denny sat down opposite me, and I could have a good look at him.
He must be about thirty. Pleasant face – not quite as accepted as beautiful, but there is something attractive to me. A bit wider than usual cheek-bones, his nose has an incorrect form (most likely, this is a consequence of the break), quiet, but not indifferent eyes, where I want to catch the glimmering of the intellect and seriousness, lips that would be so pleasant to kiss… And especially I like that he does not keep this pretentious sugary smile on his face, as the majority of foreigners do while talking or even while just walking silently. It is accepted that this smile witnesses their satisfaction with life, and may you all have these smiles and such life. God save me! I do not see anything good in this stiff grimace – this is just an ordinary silly habit, which I also acquired, as I noticed, after my quite short communication with foreigners. My condition at such moments is dull and not alive, and the feeling of my face is tense and artificial, this is why I have decided to watch attentively that I smile only when I want to smile (and it is not so often), as for the rest – keep my face quiet and not tense.
– Is it long that you are in India? – I like his voice also.
– Fifth day.
– Fifth day? I can imagine you feel like in hell, right?
– Well, no, not now. It is more or less quieter here, especially in comparison with Deli, though I have the feeling of being cheated here with my every step.
– Most likely… How much do you pay for your room? It must be you live on a boat-house on Dal-Lake?
– Yes. Twenty dollars a day, which includes breakfast.
They both laughed.
– A room for two is three to four dollars a day, and meals for a day for one is – well, five, or six maximum.
Does Shafi hear this conversation?.. He is standing not too far away, looking here, his face is watchful, even displeased. Definitely, this rat apprehends our conversation concerns prices, what else can he be afraid of?
– What? Are you serious? – disappointment imposed into my surprise. Shit! – I paid this money for three days accommodation here when I was in Deli.
– This is a usual trick. You come to a tourist agency and they scam you and sell you the most low-selling product… You must have told them that this is your first time in India.
– With such an honesty you can sign a death penalty for yourself :). You never tell them about it – in the best case scenario you will just lose your money, as it has happened to you.
– They were telling me different horrors, like two Russian girls were stabbed to pieces in a hotel…
– Well, of course… and this is why they offered you THEIR hotel, didn’t they?
– They are good in such tricks…
– oh, by the way, how much is the voyage on a shikara on the lake?
– Maximum two hundred rupees. Four dollars.
– !… I see…
– Do you have the guide-book “Lonely Planet”?
– No, why?
Denny took a fat book from his rucksack and showed it to me. (With a corner of my eye I can see Shafi’s face going grey).
– This is a guidebook. It is precious, it has all the information about India – prices, hotels, excursions, you will not be lost, if you have it.
– Can I buy it here?
– In any book store. Can’t say about anything else, but you will like book shops in India… if you are interested in esoteric books, of course.
Shit, of course I am interested in esoteric literature! Recently, this is the only literature I have been reading, though I also enjoy Hesse or Kafka… Looks like Denny and the Englishman are together by chance, they do not have anything to do with each other. My erotic fantasies surge and intertwine, they play like dolphins – either surface or dive deep. (You also think the same, don’t you? Not once you thought what it would feel like to touch my skin, if my boobs are beautiful, if my bum is springy…) My head is a bit giddy, I like it, this state is absolutely self-sufficient – even if there is no continuation, it will not disappoint, because I am not expecting anything, I enjoy the moment.
– You can hire a horse here in the mountains, – Denny talks only to me!
Instantly I feel embarrassed before the Englishman, even though I do not feel any emotions towards him, – because we (here it is, there is already “we”) are going to “leave” him. Whether he understood, or he wanted something different (I am not interested why, just want to get rid of him as soon as possible), in any case with a phrase “Oh! It’s not for me” the Englishman disappeared forever from my eyesight. The atmosphere thickened, the sky became softer and more golden, we are looking at each other and keep silent, Kashmir is now just scenery for our dance of glances, which is not easy to catch.
– Denny… – I choked, coughed, my throat feels dry…, Denny, do we need a guide? – certainly I don’t want Shafi to be with us, but if we lose our way…
– No, we don’t need a guide. In the tourist regions in India you hardly ever need a guide, if you are not going to the mountains for a few days. But even then most of the tracks are so well trodden that it is unlikely you can lose your way. Of course, Hindus pressurize, saying that the guide is necessary even to go to the toilet. And on the way the guide will take you, as if by chance, to the restaurant of his uncle or his brother. Do not trust Hindus – sometimes they are very cheeky, though not dangerous, mostly.
– Very good :). Let’s go and I will tell my guide to wait for me here.
Shafi pretends to smile, hiding his displeasure and concern, not very successfully though. It means he understands he has lost my trust, and what is the most important – my need for him. With a tense voice he answers he is going to wait for me no longer than three hours.
– Why do you dictate your conditions to her? – Denny talks strictly, but not angrily, and it immediately triggers a splash of fondness in me. – Didn’t she pay for the whole day?
– Yes, but…
– No “buts” are possible here. Maya, how much did you pay him?
I am confused – I do not want any confrontation… Shall I tell Denny that Shafi is not just a passer-by and I do not want to see his displeased face for two days longer? But there is no time for thinking it over and making a decision… Whatever!
– Fifty dollars.
Aha, Shafi’s face darkened, – to no effect he is trying to keep his face expression quiet. Now he looks like a student hating his teacher, but understands he cannot express his anger in this situation. He must have even clenched his teeth.
– Fifty dollars?? A car with a driver for a whole day costs fifteen dollars, and you believe your work is worth thirty five dollars? So for thirty five dollars you do not agree to just sit here and have your tea as long as needed?
He is silent, looks down, I feel confusion, fondness and some new joy simultaneously. I look at Denny – he is quiet and confident. In my life there were extremely rare situations, when I would make somebody feel so uncomfortable, and not because I always liked people, I was just scared to go outside the square, though I always found excuses for myself. And now I liked this situation, I liked to feel life bubbling and that my tense embarrassment is only shelling to get rid of like it is something alien.
We did not wait for Shafi’s answer, Denny told him we were returning in about five or six hours.
A narrow paved road leads to the mountains and it is still wet from the recent rain. The sky is closed with a thick veil of clouds, but we can feel the sun will soon rip this veil. There are a few tiny figures with clubs, sticking out on the golf course. The pinewood forest raises up the steep rocky slopes – no chance to have a walk there, you can only stare at it… Even here, far from the dirty town and gunmen, there is tension, as if on every branch… 220vJ – you touch, and it will shock you.
– Denny, do you like it here?
– Some dual feeling. If everything, that people had built here, were to be demolished, it might be beautiful. But as it is… no, it is distressing here.
– I also feel it, but I cannot understand why. Here, in the mountains, it should be different, not like in the town… Or maybe I just cannot relax, get rid of the burden of my impressions?
– Don’t you think people’s emotions affect the atmosphere of this place?
– I do not know… how can you know? How can you measure it?
– With your emotions only, of course, nothing else.
– Of course… Well, in general, yes :). Anyway, is it possible to comprehend what the world is without your emotions? Whatever I understand, these will be MY emotions, MY perceptions. I think about it often. But I also see – my perceptions are not something unchangeable. Today they are like these, tomorrow different, but the situation is the same. For example, these places. I am not sure I will see them tomorrow the same as today, which means I have no grounds to think that everything is so saturated with tension, these can be the peculiarities of my transient perception of this minute. Though… you say you feel the same, but these thoughts are as if surfacing, they do not touch the essence of the point, can they at all approach the point? And what is this “essence of the point”? It seems I understand, but I cannot express it…. Or I do not understand… well, this is as clear as mud :)
– Still this is the way you perceive things today. Your emotions, faces of the people, the mountains, the air, the voices, the glances – you feel the tension in all this, don’t you?
– Yes, I do. But it does not mean this tension exists independently from me.
He contemplated… His face does not express any displeasure or disappointment, and this is great, it is so pleasant. The overwhelming majority of people were very intolerant, while I was communicating with them on different topics and something was threatening their view of the world even a little, and if they could not explain something, they became concerned and irritated. Usually, if there is no clarity, people are satisfied with the most comfortable explanation. They do not want to reject any of their creed, even if is about preferences between the hand washing and machine washing. I remember that once I spent three hours trying to persuade the washing machine saves time and is healthy, while a young family couple were trying to prove only hand washing can make things really clean and white. In three hours we finished our discussion with absolute hatred for each other and didn’t find even one point where we could agree. We never met again. So there’s not much to say about the views as the base of the complicated construction of life’s principles – about family, relationship between men and women, raising children, and so on. My opponents could always find some form of rejection, if I defended my opinion with arguments, contradicting their common views. On top of that, exactly if I had arguments, it triggered the worst forms of rejection, this is why I understood that practically any communication between people consisted of sword fighting with different schemes, actually, this is not communication. People are like parallel lines – they do not cross, though it seems to them they contact each other.
– This is a well-known point of view – the world does not exist outside of us, but so far I have no clarity about it – Denny said after a few minutes of silence. – Because the world does not stop to exist if I disappear. For example, I can die tomorrow, but I know for sure, the world will not cease, every day somebody dies, but the world does not change. People come and leave, this world remains as it is. Only my world will disappear… though this is even a greater mystery – how can it be? Probably, this is the most difficult to imagine – I can disappear, come to a full stop… this is beyond my understanding, and I do not know what to think about it.
– It’s so pleasant to talk with you, Denny. Even if we do not come to anything… still it’s pleasant. I do not even know what exactly I like – maybe, sincerity?
– What do you mean?
– Sincerity, that you speak of sincerity as the main point… I’ll tell you why, but first I want to tell…
Denny paused and stopped, and so did I, and for some time we are standing and looking at each other. This few minutes silence between us is not difficult, free of any tension, as it usually happens.
– There is sincerity not only in your words, Denny, but even in your silence. Do you understand what I mean?
– No, I do not.
– You do not?
– No… but I feel! I do feel very well :)
We laughed, and small mountain crows picked up our laugh and carried it to the tops and the meadows.
– You are playing with me :) – I jokingly push him with my shoulder.
– Of course. And you like it. I knew it from the first moment I saw your eyes.
– Me too…
– So what about the world existing around us? Where were we?
– You promised to tell me about the sincerity, did you forget?
– Yes… I tried to find out what is the main thing for me, the most valuable, that is impossible to lose or forget. Intelligence – nonsense, I can live being not too intelligent. Is it beauty? No… This is sincerity. Sincerity was always what I chose. Without sincerity I am dead. It even seems to me there is no stupidity, there is no ugliness and there is no senselessness – all this is just the loss of the most important – sincerity with yourself.
I took his hand and pulled it.
– Denny, I reckon passion also depends on sincerity?
– Are you playing with me? :)
– And you like it :)… Let’s carry on. So, I do not say that the world does not exist without us, I only say I do not know if anything exists outside of my perception or without me and I have no means to know it. If there is the perception of these mountains – does it mean that there is certain “I” and there are “they” “outside of me” and there is a certain process of “perception” between “me” and “them”? What is “outside” and what is “I”? All I can say is that there is such a thing that I call “perception of the mountains”, this is why the issue of the existence of anything “outside of me” is wrong, as it is based on the acceptance in advance of the fact that there is “I” and there is an “outside” and there is a separate perception, and this is what we do not know anything about… I do not understand how it can be practically introduced into my life, because I cannot think now that there is only the “perception of the mountains”, not “I” “perceiving” “the mountains”. Is it the insincerity? To use ‘a priori’ lie for the convenience? Still… I am not a specialist in psychology, but, as a person keen on sincerity, I can say only one – there is the perception, and this is all I know, and if there is something else – I simply do not know.
Denny quickly got my idea.
– Ok, it means I can talk only about having a certain perception in this place, which is called “I feel the heat of the sun”, or “I see the sky”, or “I hear the voice”, but I do not know what the sun is as it is, as well as the sky and the voice. It seems to be right, though, honestly speaking, these are all abstract ideas and I do not understand them very well.
– Me too :). Now what do we have… if you turn away from the mountains, it is still there, you can check it, when you look back. It means it does exist, when you do not see it.
We both laughed, we realized that we were descending into some slippery obscurity.
– No, it only means that at the moment, when I turn away, I do not have the perception, which I call “I see the mountains”, but when I look back, it appears again.
– But you remember that the mountains are behind you, you just do not see them.
– I can think that if I look back, I will have the perception of the mountains, as for the moment, I have a perception of the thought about the mountains or about the image of the mountain in my mind. Once I read a phrase in a book and I keep it in mind for a while – Denny brightened up a little and went faster. – That phrase was: “I never know what is behind me, because I am looking to see what is in front of me. And who knows, maybe all I have just seen, ceases to exist, when I turn away”.
– You cannot know anything about it, you can speak only about what you perceive… Indeed… what is to be done with all this, Denny?
– Nothing so far, – he became more serious, – but for me these are all not just abstract thoughts, I try to find a trace of clarity in them, and sometimes I manage to do it, but more often I do not have success.
Yes, it looks like this is a blind pass. Interesting – can a person enlighten himself all alone, or by all means there must be somebody to explain and demonstrate? I like the first better, but I cannot prove it as an example.
– It’s so interesting to talk with you. You don’t fail to amaze me :). You must have read and thought a lot.
– Yes, I was reading a lot… and then I thought about what I was reading, and then I thought again, and then I stopped reading, because it did not change anything in my life. Fiction brought only emotions, nothing else, very rarely I found anything significant… I can tell you a few names, but they are hardly familiar to you, they are Russian writers – Bunin, Nabokov, Gazdanov…
– I know Bunin and Nabokov!
– ? Usually people know only Dostoevsky, and I do not know what attracts them, it’s absolutely gruesome… Well, and then I started reading books on psychology, religion, different practices, and again all of this reading brought the feeling of discomfort and being deceived. There was a complete opacity in everything – the terms, in techniques of achieving the so-called enlightenment… However, I have read all of Castaneda’s eleven books about five times, and most likely will re-read them again, but it is similar to swimming in warm waters – surging with the waves up and down, as there is still no answer “what’s to be done exactly”. As for the philosophy… all these Gegels, Kants – they are complete inane clutter whatsoever, there no words for it. Garbage. Did you read it?
– Of course I did. Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Kant, Sartre… For some time philosophy was my passion… Fiction also inspired me – recently – Cortazar, Llosa…
– Did it change your life?
– Yes, it did.
– ?? Did it?
– In what way?
– I stopped thinking that philosophy knew anything and psychology could do anything, it brought me down to earth.
– Ah, yes… This is what I am talking about :). I floundered about in this swamp for nearly three years, until I finally understood that all this is just juggling phantoms, abstractions, impossible to incorporate in your life. I have tried different methods – well, you must understand how it happens – no, I did not succeed, no way… And now I do not read anything – there’s nothing to read. Maybe one day I will write something if I find something I want to write about :).
– Good idea :). Only it should be something real, without even a trace of that multi promising multi significance, which is the source of all literature. All the time it promises some immediate breakthrough into a new kind of understanding, discovery, but in the end there is NOTHING definite… The writers use fiction form not as some kind of framing, but as a cover-up, hiding their complete miscomprehension of the reason for being. What is even worse – all these storyline constructions are also created to conceal the fact of this miscomprehension. It is an egregious lie. When the first time I was bold enough to say to myself I found all the “cream” of human culture is hypocritical… at a certain moment it even seemed to me that the humans are an abortive branch of nature’s evolution.
– It will take you quite close to misanthropy.
– It’s close to the truth. However, along with my complete disappointment in people and culture, I have such a strong wish to find people and art that can evoke my real fondness and it saves me from being a misanthrope.
– You know, I even met a few modern philosophers and “wise people”. It was interesting to see – how these people live, because I expected them to have some special life of a notionalist… No, all was the same – potatoes in the kitchen, a wife with curlers in her hair, anguish and depression, ambition, aggression, envy…
– A wife with curlers – this is terrible :)
My body responded to his laugh with a wave of sweetness, going through from my toes to the head. The road was going up and soon we came to the elevator.
For so long I have not been to the mountains! Elbrus… After that ascent I thought I would never approach even a small hill, I would not have even a short stroll. That was merciless power that eroded the peace of my dreams for a few months…
– Shall we hire a horse or use the lift?
Interesting, why are there two ticket booths? I cannot believe my eyes – one is for men, the other is for women. Does it still happen?
– This is typical for India – Denny laughed, – especially for Muslim states. Same in the local buses, seats for women are on one side, the other side has the seats for men.
The way to the booths is divided by an iron rail. Well, what a society, men and women cannot even be in the same queue! It looks more like paranoia, than religiosity. No, these games are not for me! I will go to the ticket booth together with my boy, you can arrest me, if you like.
– Denny, what will happen to me for this? :) I am still a bit concerned.
– Nothing, you are a foreigner!
Anyway, I look around. A few Hindu-tourists are staring at us, more than at the mountains or anything else, but no motion towards us.
A few more people get into the cable car and pretend they are not looking at us. Their language is similar to the sound of pigeon mourning, or of some strange animals, they giggle uneasily. It is a hundred per cent that they are discussing us. Of course they are harmless, but anyway, it creates a feeling of a quite strong discomfort. To hell with them, let them stare, I do not understand this indifference… when I happened to be in the mountains for the first time, I could not look at anything, except the peak of the mountain, waiting for us.