Wrapped In My National Flag

Now and then my memory for one reason or another goes back to something that happened to me a couple of decades ago as I was spending seven months backpacking overland and water through India.

Kerala-Backwaters-on-Houseboat

The previous day I had booked myself on a slow moving four day boat trip through Kerala’s backwaters from Cochin to Quilon. and at eight AM I was picked up at my hotel by a mini van half full of European travelers. As was most always the case in my time traveling through India, the other foreigners were all very friendly, open, and welcoming to one another. We introduced ourselves as we continued onwards to pick up more travelers.

I find that the harder to travel a country is, the closer fellow adventurers seem to get with one another, maybe it is some sort of survival mechanism, and this part of India was indeed a very hard place to travel in.

As the van continued to pick people up, each new member was happily greeted. At one part during the trip as the van was getting full of people and bags, a couple of us had to move into the back area of the van, behind the last seat on the floor, and the bags were piled up in front of us. Everything was going routinely on schedule until the next pickup at another hotel.

God-Spills-Assholes

Mistakes Happen

For some reason this middle aged couple who we came to pick up, found the task of giving the bags to the driver and sitting down in their eagerly awaiting seats, too difficult for them. They were very upset about something, I am not sure if they expected a limousine, or helicopter for the price they paid, but they did not seem to be satisfied with the van. They were busy arguing about the money they paid, and that the van was late, not just with the driver but one of the hotel employees as well. I would assume they had the same ticket we all had, with the price of about forty dollars, for the entire four day trip including a place to sleep and the boat, stamped right on the ticket.

They were arguing in English in a North American accent of some sort, and as a good five minutes went by, a small group of locals started to gather around to see what all this noise was about, the couple seemed to be having some sort of meltdown, perhaps traveling in India was too much for them, it is too much for many. This rude couple was even stooping so low as to point out the flaws in the English the people who were trying to serve them were using. In this part of India, English was their third language after Karnatakan and Hindi.

I am amazed at how patient the Indians can be most of the time, in a lot of countries I visited, individuals would have gotten aggressive back at the rude, loud and aggressive foreigners after such an extended period of time, it would have even escalated to violence in most places, but here it was treated with continued patience.

After what I would assume was ten minutes a Danish girl on our bus was the first to lose patience and shouted to them, “Why don’t you just get a refund, and let the rest of us go?!”

Banksy Feed The World Shirt

Arguing About Forty Dollars For Four Days

I doubt at this point any one of us wanted to spend four days on the boat with these Idiots. The couple quieted down, gave the bags to the driver, and finally got in the van. The bags were taken by the driver to the back of the van, and placed right in front of me…I was shocked…because on these two backpacks, sewn into them, similar to the way I had done myself, were Canadian flags. What embarrassment I felt, how ashamed I was of this.

I kept in mind that they may not be Canadians at all, what I found traveling around Asia in the mid 90s was that most people that claim they are Canadian, once you get to know them are actually Americans draping themselves in our flag thinking they will be more welcomed as they travel, this was the norm at this time, and may still be. Normally this false identity did not bother me because the majority of Americans I was meeting doing this were acting politely enough at the time that I would have welcome them to use our identity.

I shouted to the front of the van “Where in Canada are you guys from?”

The man replied “Vancouver” (this just happens to be my hometown.)

“Oh yeah, where in Vancouver are you from?” I asked them.

They paused for a bit and said “The main part”. “The main part” is not an answer any true Vancouverite would give, we separate Vancouver into either North Van, East Van, The West End, Kits or many other specific parts, and of course most people that say they are from Vancouver are actually from the surrounding suburbs…none of us are from “The Main Part”, highly suspicious. Maybe they could be from Vancouver, I mean Canada is not completely devoid of assholes after all.

Stephen Harper Touched By God

I Didn’t Vote For Him

It is not  just our southern neighbors who occasionally piggyback on our “honorable” nationality, sometimes posing as us as they traveled, sometimes pushing a Canadian puppet forward into the international media as an attempt bring trust to an agenda so shady they can not simply promote it themselves, but people of other nationalities also try to benefit from our perceived honor, many internet scammers also pretend they are Canadians, for instance most “Canadian Online Pharmacies” are not actually owned by Canadians, nor are they selling Canadian made pharmaceuticals, again they just drape themselves in our flag and pretend to be Canadian. Some international criminals also tend to hire Canadian lawyers to represent them at things such as human rights tribunals hoping that it might help their case. Quite often on internet forums, some people also pretend they are Canadian for some strange reason, particularly during debates on the US medical system, telling either false horror stories of how the Canadian medical system works, or over emphasizing the rare occasions where things do go wrong. Canada’s honorability on the international stage has diminished greatly over the last couple of decades, not just because of the many false Canadians, but also sadly because some of our recent Canadian politicians have not exactly been the best people…we have some things to be ashamed of already without all the fake Canadians to bring us down further.


Robin Williams Singing Blame Canada by farzaneh182

Now back to my story:

To the shock of the German guy who was sitting beside me on the van floor in the back, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a knife, I then moved it over to the flag on the bag, and as I began to pick out the stitches he smiled and nodded at me, so for the next few minutes as we drove I picked out every last stitch that held that flags on, then took the flags and put them safely in my pocket for later disposal. I didn’t know if they were Canadians or not, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to let them travel the world representing where I come from. They are nothing like the types of people I like to be associated with.

I would assume the rude couple had felt our ill feelings towards them, because after our twenty minute drive to the docks was over, there was relief in the air, as the couple decided not to take the boat trip with us after all, and instead took a taxi off to go spread their misery elsewhere.

People who travel are not only guests in a foreign country, but also representatives of where they come from. Not only were these two spreading to the people of India the idea that Canadians are assholes, but also to all the other foreigners they met. If you do not have any sort of respect for others, as these two did not, please just stay in your own damn country rather than spreading your assholery around the planet, and if they were Canadian after all, which they may have been, then on behave of Canada, I apologize for the assholes we sometimes produce. I just could not let them continue their travels wrapped in my national flag.


The Above Clip Features American Actor Matthew Segal, Wearing A Canadian Flag.

Save

Whistle Another Day

My grandma asked me something a couple of decades ago now that I still think about from time to time, she asked “Why don’t I ever hear people whistling anymore? Men used to walk down the road whistling a tune in the morning, now it seems nobody does it anymore. Do people still whistle?”

I never grew up in my grandma’s time, but I do remember people whistling in some of the older books I have read, as well as in movies and on TV, The Andy Griffith show pops in my head when i think about old time whistling.

Wow look at how young Ron Howard was back then.

I remember as a child I had wanted to whistle, I used to practice it when I was very young, and got fairly decent at it. Whistling though, seems to have become somewhat of a lost art. I wonder, why people had stopped whistling? Is it possible people don’t whistle in the rest of the world as well these days? I don’t remember hearing any whistling by anyone on my world travels. Well other than myself, including the occasion I will tell you about below.

As many of you know, in my early twenties, I took quite a long, nineteen consecutive month, trip around Asia. After my first stop in Hong Kong, I made my way to the old Portuguese settlement of Goa, situated on the west coast of the Indian subcontinent. Goa is a wonderful place described in the Lonely Planet as something similar to “Perfect tropical suburbia” It also boasts ridiculously beautiful beaches, occasional surfing, and a night life that often carries right through till the afternoon of the next day. Though my European readers are of course completely familiar with Goa and all its stories, for some reason North Americans, for the most part, have not discovered it.

Goa Beach Palolem

Goa Beach In the Afternoon

About a month into this trip, which I had taken on my own, I had already found a good bunch of male British friends to spend my time with, but I was especially happy when I found myself a couple of lovely, and fun, female British friends, one was named Trudy, and the other, Klowie.

Trudy, Klowie, and I had many adventures around Goa together. After sleeping off a night of partying, we would often jump on our motorbikes, and head off to eat our afternoon breakfast at the local German bakery, on a few occasions if we all got up early enough, we would then head off to some remote, quiet beaches, or perhaps a nice hot springs for a soak in the middle of the jungle, just the three of us. It was great, just me and two pretty ladies. Though I suspected both might have been interested me, I was growing closer, faster to the lovely, long brown haired, Trudy.

As Trudy and I continuing to get closer, Klowie had stopped spending as much time with us, after a while though Klowie would still eat breakfast with us, it was normally just Trudy and I for the rest of the day. We were still not a couple at this time, but one lovely full moon night, like something out of a romance novel, Trudy mentioned how dirty her hair was, and I suggested that I should wash it for her. OK not really a romance novel, but it was the way it happened. So off we went back to her place for some good old team scrubbing.

CENSORED

Somewhere around 5 AM the two of us were still awake, and not wanting to sleep, we left her hotel for a nice long full moon lit walk down the long empty beach. We were both smiling as we held each other’s hands. After some time, the moon and stars faded, and the sky started to get light with the coming sun. As the sun was rising, the waves were breaking on the shore, a school of dolphins were spotted, birds were chirping, and then for some reason in my happiness I began to whistle a soft practiced tune.

At the sound my my whistling, Trudy stopped, looked at me, and said. “Stop that.”

“Stop what?” I asked.

Trudy looked at me sternly. “Stop your whistling, I’m not going to walk around with someone whistling.”

“Why?” I said “There is nobody around.” and then proceeded to continue my tune.

Trudy turned around, and stormed away from me, off the beach, as I stood there, whistling. Once Trudy was out of sight, and I realized she was not coming back, I lost my moment of happiness, and no longer felt like whistling anymore.

Trudy and I only saw each other once after that, across a crowded room, but we did not talk.

I do not regret my continued whistling that day, though Trudy left me alone, I was free to whistle another day.

A song for Trudy:

Developing Countries and Robots

The Term Developing Countries is thrown around quite a bit in “Developed Countries”, there are actually very few people in “Developed” countries. In common practice, only Japan in Asia, Canada and the United States in northern America, Australia and New Zealand in Oceana  and Western Europe are considered “developed” regions or areas. In international trade statistics they consider, the Southern African Customs Union, and Israel as a developed areas.

If you look on a map, this isn’t really that much of the world, obviously places like Australia and Canada are huge, but they only contain a combined  total of about 55 million people so if you start considering populations, again its just not that many people.  In fact all “developed” nations all trade together and have international stock exchanges. They are sort of all from the same club.

I find it funny how one country or group of countries (like a club), can decide who will,  and who will not be considered “developed”. Of course there are some countries that and “more shiny” than others. If you go to countries like The United States, Canada, and Australia, you we astonished at how well they are laid out. The reason for this is they have been developing their cities and towns and roadways etc, with the modern day inventions of telephones, electricity, and automobiles considered in the planning. If you go to the newest places, like most of Australia, and the west coast of the United States and Canada, these cities are so new, all has been logically pre planned before the city was even built. This is in large contrast to older places where people build houses without the consideration of all the things that had yet to be invented. I mean when Varanasi in India was built six thousand years ago, they didn’t consider where the cars would go.

It is true that most modern scientific inventions are accredited to “developed” countries, or at least almost all International Patents are registered by “developed” countries. Basically being a member of the club means you know its systems, and membership does have privileges.

I am faced with issues on the money making side of my life currently where artists over in “developing” nations have drawn some artwork that another company in America is actively copywriting for themselves, cutting this small company, that is not “in the know”, out of the profits, and the ability to sell their own designs. Sad isn’t it?

An average person arriving from a “New” country to any old country tends to judge a book by its cover, traffic congestion, overhead wires, crooked streets, non sequential addresses, and old buildings, just don’t look the same as the new shiny glass buildings, with underground wiring, on strait roadways.

The wild dogs and in the streets in some “developing” nations, are considered dangerous to people from western countries that have never dealt with wild dogs before,  they think the country just doesn’t know how to deal with those issues, when the fact is the religion says to just leave nature to nature and they don’t believe in killing them or “fixing” them. I have been walking around packs and huge groups of wild dogs for about 8 years now and have never been bit. In fact I am glad they are there, because they will bark at strangers, and help keep my little road safe for us people who live here.

Too many people travel from these types of places, judge the book by its cover and make a decision that they should be the teachers, since it is obvious they are superior.

Obviously “developed” countries, do have some things to teach “developing” ones about things like technology, and modern day business, but having the ability to build robots,  does not mean they are superior at everything else.

Some people are so full of themselves they think that they, coming from a developed country,  can somehow teach Indians how to play the guitar, which India  actually invented themselves thousands of years ago. Or cooking, like we all don’t know how to cook. I mean maybe they don’t make a better hamburger or fish and chips in Asia than they do back home, but thank god they have so many other things to cook that taste better and are healthier for us.

Some thick headed idiots actually get mad at people in non-English speaking countries for not speaking English…

When I was twenty two, I went to several doctors in Canada about a nasal infection I had. I was recommended many prescription drugs and when they didn’t work eventually an operation. I decided I wasn’t bothered about it enough to get an operation. When I saw a doctor in India about it, he gave me a little device similar to a chicken baster and told me to squirt water with salt in it up my nose 2 times a day. This cured me in about a week. The same doctor recommended on a different occasion chewing on some raw ginger for my sore thought, it didn’t taste that bad and I only had to do it once a day to get rid of my sore throat for the day. Did you know drinking warm water breaks up phlegm when you have bronchitis, and cold drinks make it worse? Makes sense doesn’t it?

I have an 8 year old son that has been living in “undeveloped” countries with me for the last three years. At home in Canada children that are less than about 10 years old are generally kept inside or supervised by the parent, to keep them safe from sickos and perverts. In Asia you just let them run free and so do all the other kids, and all the neighborhood kids and parents, and anyone else that lives there looks out for them and they are safe.

We run over to these countries so often for work, or holidays, and often don’t bother to listen or ask what they have to teach us. We teach them all we know and leave. In the end they have all their knowledge and all of ours. This isn’t really a good plan for long term competition. You cant speak and listen at the same time. Our big headedness could one day be our downfall.

No one ever asks why some things are better in “developing” countries than the in “developed” countries, I mean we build the best robots, so obviously we have nothing to learn from anyone else, right?

Wrong! Living life has absolutely nothing to do with making robots.

The Birds and The Bees

I wrote this a long time ago when I was 23 on Kovalam Beach in Kerela India, as I sat on the edge of a beautiful beach and my new girlfriend had just gone to the store.

I used to try and find it once,
now I wait for it to come.
I used to go out seeking it,
which wasn’t very fun.

When a bird does come alone,
Who sings a friendly song,
I tend to buzz towards their claws,
Then parts of me are gone.

But If for once I find a bird,
who’s heart is made of gold.
May the passion never leave us,
and our love forever told.

Go to top