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Dogster: The Devil in Kolkata

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Jun 12th, 2009, 10:10 PM
  #1
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Dogster: The Devil in Kolkata

The story so far:

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...om-kolkata.cfm

About ¾ of the way down are these mysterious words:

‘I've found a new pit. I spent six hours staring into the maw. Then I had to clamber out, fast - for fear of my immortal soul. I think I'll go for more elevated pursuits for a while. I need art, dancing and beauty, simplicity and calm...’

Here’s what happened. I’ll deliver it in installments so you all have time to get a calming brandy to stop your hands shaking. If the editors delete it, well – we’ll all know I’ve gone much, much too far...

BE WARNED: it’s real but it’s not pretty – nor is my interpretation of events likely to be 100% correct. Most of the time I was adrift on a sea of Hindi, translation was occasional, often retrospective and explanation nil, dumped in the deep end, dog-paddling furiously in progressively murky waters.

Remember, Dogster does this dangerous work for YOU, not for him. He is a servant of the people. He does this so that all of you will know what NOT to do in the future. He is a very stupid man.

So, to be more accurate, here’s what I think happened...

Sensitive readers – just stop NOW.
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Jun 12th, 2009, 10:12 PM
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Ifte, Dogster and the Devil are hurtling through the darkness to the black centre of a downtown Kolkata slum. We’re lost. I’m strangely sanguine about this. I’ve been lost since I arrived in India – by now it was just a question of degree. We ditch the cab. On foot now, following the Devil’s retreating back through narrow streets, past the cows, the kids and the never-ending stare, down, around, first to the left, take a right, make a call, go back, take a left...

‘Where are we going, Ifte?’

‘I don’t know.’

Ifte was still lost when we arrived and remained so for most of the evening - somewhere by a bridge across a river, stumbling down a rubbish-strewn bank and into the sunset, directly into a long street entirely lined with transsexual whores.

‘Oh, my God...’ he said.
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Jun 12th, 2009, 10:13 PM
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I met the Devil in a cafe on a corner in Kolkata. He was a small jaded pixie in his late fifties with a thin line of old mascara under each eye, plucked eyebrows and the faint blush of last night’s lipstick on his mouth. His hair had receded to a mid-point right at the top of his head and grew into a fine, coiffed crown: from gay grey to soft orange merging gently into Rita Heyworth brown.

Rather disappointingly, he was dressed as a man – but I guess even a hijra needs a holiday. Now he looked exactly like a man who dresses as a woman dressed as a man on his day off. I don’t know if he had a dick or not. I didn’t really care. I needed a hijra-fixer, with or without willy. He was perfect, a dangerous spiky fellow but, once he agreed to an extravagant fee, an excellent makeshift guide.

Of course, I didn’t know he was the Devil at the time.
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Jun 12th, 2009, 10:14 PM
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It was just a few dozen transsexual whores, fifty or sixty at most. I felt completely relaxed, if a little surprised to be here. It was dinner-time; the ladies were sprawled around chatting, stuffing their faces and laughing. The white guy was not the main attraction. Satan glided through the girls with a wave and a smile, a chat here and there to a castrated sister, pausing to throw a sentence or two over his shoulder to the foreigner.

‘That’s Desiree, she’s one of my girls...’

A waving arm and a shriek of laughter from behind a curtain.

‘That’s Anouk,’ he said with a smile. ‘She’s a very naughty girl.’

Anouk’s shouting something rude and friendly. I think I’m being discussed. Satan shouted something rude and friendly back. Everybody laughed. I wiggled my head and pulled a face.

‘Hello-o-o ladies, good luck for tonight ...’

The girls waved gaily and went about their business.

‘What did you say to them?’ I asked the Devil.

‘I said you were old and your dick didn’t work.’

Our stately progress down the street of whores continued.
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Jun 12th, 2009, 10:14 PM
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Did I know what I was getting into?

Well... no.

‘Take me to the hadjeera,’ I’d demanded. Did I know what a hadjeera was?’ No, not really. Guys dressed up as bad Indian drag-queens – that was about it. I’d seen some on the street.

Ifte didn’t know he was getting into either. I did a Dogster mime.

‘Wha...? Wha...? Oh! Hijra!’ He pronounced it heed-jera. Both syllables are said rapidly. ‘Are you sure?’

‘Yeah, yeah, let’s go see those guys...’

Ifte is a smart, young go-ahead Indian fellow with a smart, young Indian tour company. He had a contact, he made a call, charmed and chatted, cruised and schmoozed; before either of us knew it we were in a cab outside a cafe on a corner in Kolkata.

Ifte delivered. Well, he’d delivered the man who could take me to the Hijra. Now we were both in the Devil’s care. Did we know who this guy was? Anything about him?

Well... no.
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Jun 12th, 2009, 10:15 PM
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Ifte disentangled himself from a mass of enthusiastic transsexuals. He was a good-looking fellow with a self-confidence and disinterest that made him even more attractive. He drew attention everywhere we went, particular on a street filled with one dollar scrubbers.

‘What are you doing here? Why are you here? You’re too handsome.’

He looked shaken.

‘Oh, Ifte, you must know about these places,’ I joshed.

‘No-o-o, no-o-o, never. Never in my life. Really.’

He was remarkably upset. I couldn’t work it out. It was obviously all my fault.

‘I didn’t think he’d bring us here,’ the poor sod kept muttering, ‘I’m a newly-married man, I can’t be seen...’

‘What do you want?’ the whores all cried.

‘Pretty boy! Pretty boy! We’ll do it for free-e-e-e!’

‘Oh, my God...’

Getting dark, the streets full of shadows, just the glint of teeth and gold in the doorways, Ifte sinking further and further out of his depth. Soon it would be time to take him seriously.
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Jun 12th, 2009, 10:22 PM
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Everything must have its place. Living in a tiny sub-society needs rules, too. Becoming a hijra is a process of socialization into the wider family of gender misfits. You have to find your place on the confusion shelf. The girls typically live together in a commune arrangement, a family of five or more chelas - disciples - supervised by a guru.

The chela’s bed is on a platform about a meter up in the air. There’s a small window looking down on to the street. Draped across one corner of the mattress, backlit by the afternoon sun, an attractive Nepali woman welcomed me in. My gracious hostess was somewhere in her mid-thirties with the patient face of a Buddhist martyr, draped in a pretty pink sari. She exuded an air of confidence, tempered with a slight melancholy. This gal was a long way from home.

‘Sit, sit...’ she indicated with her hand and smiled.

Only the Adam’s apple gave her away.

‘Kathmandu?’

She smiled and fluttered her eyes.

‘Do you miss Nepal?’

She looked confused, then sad. The Devil had to leap in with translation.

‘She says that she can never go home.’
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Jun 12th, 2009, 10:28 PM
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We’re up two flights of tiny stairs to a room inside a warren of others. It’s the width of a double bed turned sideways. I know this because the one I’m staring at just touches three of the four walls. An ingenious arrangement of shelves and protrusions house a collection of ornaments, plates and tumblers, neatly arranged in precise formation.

A pimply girl with long straight black hair sat with her back to the wall. She was a little sulky and self-absorbed, spent her afternoons heartily distributing condoms for the collective. Make-up was caked heavily over her acne. Pimples was a large-jawed lad with not-very girlish features who looked exactly like a large-jawed youth with not-very girlish features in heavy make-up and a wig. The spotty lad might have the moves down – but Mother Nature forgot about his face. He was never going to cut it as a girl - which, of course, if you’re a Hijra, isn’t really a problem.

I watched this boy pouring out his woes. He looked exactly like every other self-absorbed youth with a pimple problem – although not many of the boys would have been wearing a fetching striped top with long frilly sleeves. Where did his breasts come from? Probably from the same place his acne did. I didn’t know. It looked like they were wearing him, not the other way around.

He had crossed the line, that’s all that mattered. Pre-op, post-op, I couldn’t tell, the whole thing was spinning me out. I hoped it was pre-op. This kid needed to keep all his options open.

‘How much is this operation?’ I asked.

‘Boobs are three thousand rupees, everything five thousand more,’ said mine host. ‘Double it if you want a surgeon who doesn’t drink.’

‘That’s a lot,’ I nodded gravely.

At least they use anesthetic now.
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Jun 12th, 2009, 10:30 PM
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That's enough for today.

Episode two tomorrow. Let me know if you're reading. You know I get sulky.
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Jun 12th, 2009, 11:17 PM
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I've been sitting here waiting for the camp fire to be lit for the last week!!!! The case of red has dwindled to alarming proportions so you're just in the nick of time to save me from myself. Now I can sit and read at my leisure. So I'll comment later after a good read - thank you. I've been hoping of a few stories before the end of the week - we're off on Friday so need something to sustain me while we're away.

How is that hind leg doing? Did the Bangkok massage really do the trick or is it still playing up.
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Jun 12th, 2009, 11:40 PM
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Welcome back Dude. Thought you were at the vet's.
Glad you're OK.

Couldn't sleep so I stumbled by and.....LOL,
now I hope I don't fall asleep....nightmares
might ensue.

If its shock value you're after - ya hit the nail
on the head....whoa
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Jun 13th, 2009, 01:02 AM
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Ahhh, I see this post is blessed by the presence of my spiritual advisor. Hiya Becalm.

I don't mean to shock you, really. No more than I shock myself. This is just another Dog Day in India, gristle on my daily bone. This first installment is the easy bit. I'm afraid, my friend, I have to report that things just get worse.

It might be best to read the rest of this with your eyes closed.
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Jun 13th, 2009, 01:33 AM
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'It might be best to read the rest of this with your eyes closed.' (ROTFL....just too funny)

In some strange way, I feel I already have....
But Maestro, 'damn the torpedos, full speed ahead.'
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Jun 13th, 2009, 02:38 AM
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Welcome back, stupid or not you lived to tell the tale.

Am now practising reading with my eyes closed, but Braille doesn't work on my screen.

How is your leg doing?
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Jun 13th, 2009, 03:23 AM
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Yup NY, I lived, although this particular little adventure has stuck in my gut more than most. There were probably five or six occasions when I felt REALLY uncomfortable this time in India. This was one of them. If I can bring myself to post it all in here, you'll see why.

MaryW - I'm sorry I missed you. I'll try and nourish you as much as I can - but nothing beats a case of red. Although, I think as this rolls on, you'll need something stronger. You and NY were kind enough to enquire as the leg. Not great. Think of this as diversion.
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Jun 13th, 2009, 04:17 AM
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Just another Dog Day in India - hmmmm...

I am very curious to see how this one turns out. Please keep it coming.
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Jun 13th, 2009, 05:32 AM
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Waiting for more!
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Jun 13th, 2009, 05:57 AM
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I'll just double up the cases of red for the week - we have good neighbours and their lovely lovely wines so I'll manage - have some nice scotch in reserve if it gets desperate as I'm pretty sure its going to be with your stories. You always tell it so, so well even when its not a nice story at all. I often feel very inadequate with my traveling and but then I just decide that there is nothing really wrong with just having a nice time - after all there is a wonderful dog out there doing the hard bits on our behalf.

I'm really sorry to hear the leg is still bad -what are you doing about it - do you have a good vet?
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Jun 13th, 2009, 06:51 AM
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I wondered what you were up to dogster - having too much fun in Melbourne, I thought [lol]. Then I thought not, maybe still somewhere in Asia. Hope the leg improves, can't have you limping through the next adventure.

Great writing, but "Remember, Dogster does this dangerous work for YOU, not for him." A likely story!
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Jun 13th, 2009, 07:10 AM
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lol thanks guys.

I'll be putting up a Braille version of this soon, but in the meantime, here's the next bit:
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