Note from Naggar

Two-and-a-half years later, here I am – in Naggar!

On a wet, January morning back at school after the seasonal break, I discovered that I had a 1-1 lesson with a Russian woman for the first English class. Anyone who is a teacher knows that such lessons are generally more intense and demanding than teaching a group, so I wasn’t really best-pleased at the prospect.

I was still hungover from the festivities.

And then Svetlana appeared and we got on very well together and before I knew it we were discussing Russian artists and she was suggesting I might appreciate the work of Nikolai Roerich, who I then discovered had set up home in the Himalayas with his family back in the 1920s.

That January morning was when I decided that I would visit what had now become a museum and cultural centre.roerich

I couldn’t go that year, but planned to visit the following April, when the mountain weather would be getting warmer. We booked the guesthouse in advance and had the travel visas in our hands ready for posting to the Indian embassy when a phone call said that my dad-in-law had been taken to hospital.

Naturally, the trip was postponed.

Skip forward another year and the stand-alone trip was to be incorporated into a year-long adventure taking in other places including Himachal Pradesh.

This trip then had to be re-structured once again and so we arrived in Mumbai at the end of January this year. Since then we have travelled through Rajasthan and a section of Uttarakhand, before the weather conditions have at last made it possible to locate this far north and this high up.

And so what started out as an apparently miserable day of work on an English winter’s day which just had to be endured, actually turned into the catalyst for a trip to the roof of the world.

Think of that next time you feel like taking a sickie.

What a place it is, an endless-seeming flow of snow-topped mountains with pine-covered slopes and icy-cold water cascading through the heat and rocks down into the fast-flowing Beas river up along the valley. The orchards are coming into bloom and their dainty white and pink blossoms dot the terraces and lower slopes and the men work with their shovels to scrape away the grass and weed-growth surrounding the blue-painted trunks of the fruit trees. I’ve got my own colourful little topi to perch on my head in the morning and nightime cold, but feel a little stupid wearing it during the day among the paharis as we rock along the winter-damaged roads in the battered old suspension-free buses that cost hardly a rupee to travel on or sit in dhabas eating powerfully-hot thalis of lentil dhal and rice.

At the guesthouse where we are staying I have come upon a copy of ‘Shantaram’ which was recommended to me both before leaving for Mumbai and while drinking in the bar that gets a special mention within its pages. It’s a story that’s awash with poetic language and strong imagery that I would have certainly loved in my younger days of avid reading. Even now, I suspect I’m going to get along with it pretty fine. I hope so. The nights are still long and cold up here and I need something to occupy my waking thoughts as I lay snuggled up safe and warm underneath the heaviest bedspread imaginable until the first sunrays of the Himalayan morning.

Books by Glyn Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available at Amazon and bookstores around the world

Bulletin from Bharatpur

This lodge, in a row of six owned individually by Ashok and his brothers, is the calmest place we have found since our arrival in Mumbai over a month ago. The garden is a veritable oasis away from the surrounding busy streets, and during the course of the day we can lounge on the terrace and take it all in, while Indu’s restaurant is open to us all the while. It’s so lovely here that I am feeling particularly lucky (and indolent, as Anne goes about earning money to pay for the trip through her translation work).jungle lodge

Ashok announced last weekend that he could feel winter had come to an end. When we arrived the sky had been cold and grey and we woke to thunder and rain and we hadn’t wanted to get out of bed overmuch, although that quickly changed once the sun had risen a little, spreading its warm rays through the greyish, northern Rajasthan mist. Then a hot shower was followed by a breakfast of porridge and hot buttered toast with a big pot of tea in Indu’s place.

That rain-spattered night we had been invited round to the home of a local family and nearly froze as we were collected and deposited on the back of two motorbikes.

Day by day, though, the temperatures increased, so that we were a little worried the migratory birds which had been held back by the unusually inclement weather might decide to fly off in adherence to an age-old internal command. Thankfully, a trip to the local bird sanctuary assuaged our concerns.

Far more irritating than the rickety old bikes, build-up of heat and worries about any absent avian life was the attention we continually received from adolescent boys away from school, always on the lookout for foreigners to tease and share selfies. This particular day was a state holiday in celebration of the supposed marriage of Lord Shiva to Parvati and entire villages from around the park were out to ask for nuptial blessings at the local temple.

People continually ask me what differences I can see from my last trip in Rajasthan four decades ago and all I can come up with is the increase in traffic – and a lot more tourists. Actually, the rise in the former has blighted this trip somewhat and we are hopeful our next destinations set in and near the Himalayas will be less noisy and busy.

In anticipation of our arrival at Rishikesh (where Anne has just booked herself in for a week-long ashram retreat), I downloaded the Beatles ‘White Album’, containing as it does songs composed during the Fab Four’s stay with the Maharashi Mahesh Yogi.

Apart from the well-known classics like Back in the USSR and Revolution, the collection had a ring of self-indulgence and I was reminded why I had never been a big Beatles fan to begin with. I’d been looking forward to deconstructing the songs and inter-twining them somehow with the India trip (much like I have done with The Doors LA Woman album, in a story from the DOSTOEVSKY’S PLACE collection, set during a stay in Russia), and in some way – and in the same manner – make allusions to the human condition. Well, you can’t fake it.

What did come out of this listening process, for me, was this information :-

abbey road

The next Beatles album Abbey Road was released in 1969 (i.e. fifty years ago, the ‘White Album’ came out the previous year) and was only displaced briefly from the number 1 spot by the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed, and then eventually with Led Zeppelin II. I mean, just look at that list of three albums! Somehow, their emergence together says a great deal about the kind of energy that was being generated around this period of time.

However, a trawl through the works of fiction of that era did not really correlate with this revolutionary spirit. Which tells me, equally, that the literary world has almost always lagged well behind the production of meaningful popular music, the exception coming with the emergence of the Beats in post-war America.

Quite why this is, I can only speculate. I mean, reading isn’t really that hard a process, just so long as you have the right sequence of words before you. Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut came out back then and is proof that literature can have a similarly positive effect as accessible rock music.

That is the spirit that I have tried to imbue within my work – and that is the spirit that will eventually make this world a much better place to live.

Books by Glyn Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available at Amazon and bookstores around the world

(Just yesterday evening we were told a baby girl had been born to the daughter-in-law of the local family we visited – slightly before time!)

Journal from Jaipur

From something I wrote concerning Jaipur,1979

   In the hot Rajasthan towns perched up high in their wooden kiosks with sheets of newspaper and weighing scales set up beside them, locals sold Indian weed and opium. Illegal drugs like smack and alcohol were the domain of the taxi-drivers. Amphetamine was available at the chemist. Gee and I, though, were so enraptured by the Indian sights and sounds and smells, and so exhausted by the Asian heat, neither of us bothered much with any of that stuff, preferring instead to drink yoghurt and fruit juice and keep up our energy levels with gooey Hindu sweets. We wouldn’t use the taxis to begin with because we wanted to actually feel the pulse of the street, but sitting behind the poor skinny buggers pedalling their old bone-shakers with all our weight behind them made us feel pretty bad.

‘Maybe we shouldn’t do this,’ said Gee.

‘Yeah, but then it’s their trade isn’t it,’ I said. ‘What else will they do?’

After one ride the young raggedy fellah who’d pedalled us round town in the hot sun to a chemist to get iodine refused to accept our money. He chased us down the street calling us we knew not what but could guess from the looks of the other Indian passers-by. Something along the lines of You cheating motherfuckers, how dare you come over here and treat us like so much cheap shit. Then as he waved the rupee note in front of us we realised that it was worn and crumpled. Obviously as far as the pedi-cab fellah was concerned a crumpled worn-out note wasn’t worth as much as a crisp new one. So Gee slipped him a twenty and he nearly died on the spot.

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Rickshaw-wallah and me, Jaipur 2019

Another time a fellah gave us a lift with our bags at five in the morning to a coach stop before hardly anyone was about and really, in the cool Asian morning mist with the big white sky and wide dusty road all to ourselves, Gee and I realised just how pitiful the whole spectacle was. The poor sod in front of us had a gamy leg and could only really push down with one good foot and going up any sort of incline at all – and there was one particularly long if gentle one – we must have slowed down to about one mile a fortnight. The sheer lack of progress, the tortuous slowness, heightened our perception of what was actually happening.

‘This isn’t exactly The Beatles, is it?’ said Gee. ‘Maharishi-style.’

‘No, I said. But, still, it’s quite enlightening.’

I suggested we get off and walk, but the fellah turned round and tried to smile through the grimace caused by all the effort of towing us along with his one good foot. We made it to the coach stop eventually and handed over the four rupees and felt that maybe the combustion engine for all its faults was really not such a bad idea after all.

DEATH AND THE DEAD (VIP, 2018)

‘…and felt that maybe the combustion engine for all its faults was really not such a bad idea after all.’

oldcarsprayed
VX4/90, South Bucks 1979

Hmmm! The Jaipur city air in 2019 is now so heavily polluted on account of the endless flow of combustion-fuel driven vehicles that we decided to curtail our visit since it was only making my lung condition all the worse, even following a course of anti-biotics purchased in Jodhpur (which means the next blog post will come from Bharatpur sooner than intended).

Books by Glyn Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available at Amazon and bookstores around the world

Report from Ranakpur

Jain Shwetamber Temple is probably the most beautiful man-made structure I have ever been to. Built in the 14th century and dedicated to the first Tirthankar Sri Adinathji, it is an acre-filled symmetrical four-sided space of 1444 gloriously carved stone pillars, panels and domes. What a place!

The main tenets of the Jainism are Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truth), Achaurya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy/chastity) and Aparigraha (non-attachment/non-possession).269px-Jain_Temple_of_Ranakpur_14

Imagine what a different world we’d inhabit if the grouping that goes to make up FUKUS followed such precepts.

On the walk back along the road to our lodging I was ambushed and surrounded by a group of macaques that had espied my goody-bag of dried fruits and nuts. I was getting quite scared as they closed in on me, teeth bared and ready for attack – like being confronted by Trump, Bolton, Pompeo, Abrams and their supporting primates.2018-01-11-florida-monkeys

The last thing I wanted was to be bitten and scratched up by this advancing brigade. They most likely carried more diseases and ill-will than the entire 8th Army. Fortunately, literally at the last moment, when I thought that I was a goner, a fellow turned up on his scooter and rescued me as I hopped on the back and we navigated our way through. Phew!

Books by Glyn Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available at Amazon and bookstores around the world

Communique from Kumbhalgarh

A whole week without seeing any other tourists – until a group of IT workers based in Gujurat rocked up in two coaches and invited us to share their annual get-away party with them. Not sure you could really call them ‘tourists’ though.

Which means we have been sharing our luxury hotel up in the mountain pass with only the staff and an assortment of camels, cows, goats, macaques, dogs, pigs, donkeys and parakeets. No cats, strangely.

The menu is ‘pure veg’ and the chef has been producing other-worldly but in fact basic down-home Rajasthan dishes, all washed down with copious amounts of ice-cold Indian lager.

The manager set us up with a modem and, inspired by the edge-of-the desert landscape and strong beer, I spent an evening listening to a pair of ol’ Neil Young albums, Harvest Moon and Prairie Wind, both written as though for country rockers just past their prime, but still evoking the high-income American mythologies of limitless space and broken dreams – all mixed up with a fuzzy we’re-still-in-love and safe-in-our-old-home after all these years and the kids grown up kind of tone. Quite dreamy, really. The last of these albums dates back to 2005 and I wonder if anyone in America still believes in these kinds of notions more than a decade on. They sound dated to me, however alluring and reassuring they might come across.

Because from wherever I’m sitting – whether high up in the Albanian mountains, on an Apulian beach, hiking in the French Alps, back home or travelling across the Thar Desert – all I’m getting is a country in terminal decline as it continues waging ever-lasting wars on countries that would not give the American people a moment’s thought were it not for their military invasion and destructive terror campaigns launched against their own population. Think Yemen, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Somalia, Syria and so on. Not to mention all those Latin American countries, with Venezuela now very prominent on the US’s which-country-can-we-plunder-and-destroy-without-fear-of-repercussion-next list.

Set against this is the constant chatter of Hindi and other Indian languages and a fair old dose of jazzy Planet Gong, rocky Kula Shaker and good old Ravi Shankar knocking it out on his trusty sitar.

That and a vast, blue Rajasthan sky.

All very Indian, all very new-world – all very good.

Now, if only we could find some real peace in this world.

Books by Glyn Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available at Amazon and bookstores around the world

Message from Mumbai

Here I am sitting in my Mumbai hotel room listening to music on a downloaded acoustic playlist, the fan whirring on the ceiling above, pigeon’s cooing on the balcony…and I’m thinking about Venezuela and the Venezuelans. How does that happen? How do you remove yourself from your everyday UK existence, travel thousands of miles, and yet still inhabit your old headspace? Is it the technology – or just reflex..?

When we got here five days ago, owing to the sheer incomprehensibility of our new environment, we followed the advice of a Canadian we met and headed for Leopold’s on the Causeway, near the hotel. Within were the international travellers to whom this place acts as a common magnet. Some Australian guy wrote a novel called Sham-something about his extravagant Catch-Me-If-You-Can experiences in this city and apparently hung out in this eatery and so it appeared natural for the visitors to do the same. We consumed our over-priced curried-food and Kingfisher beers and hurriedly left.

Next day we found a proper eating place round the corner.

But that initial commercialisation experience didn’t stop us going on a tour of Dharavi, the big slum where Danny Boyle set the opening of his Slumdog Millionaire film.

You just can’t escape your cultural references, can you?

Well, the tour was actually very insightful as we were taken through the narrow passages by our slum-dwelling guide and saw how the inhabitants carved out a reasonable living mostly through recycling rubbish and making clothes and leather goods (the Derahvi brand is on its way, folks, fashioned by a South African designer), along with a poppadomarie, pottery-making area and a bakery where Mumbai’s well-known pastry cases are produced, ready for filling (unbeknownst even to most Mumbaikas themselves).

In our eatery round the corner, I told of a twenty-year old visitor to India from forty years ago who had raised money for the trip by taking orders for the hash he promised to bring back with him; only to find out on arrival it wasn’t financially viable, so brought back a heap of grade four morphine instead, helping to feed the opioid crisis taking place in his own hometown back then.

Not that we are intending to do anything like that, of course.

We will almost certainly travel to Pushkar though, where our drug-smuggler also visited back then – and whose experience of meeting the camel-rearing nomads of the Thar Desert on the parapet of the hill-top temple is retold in a book I wrote called Death and the Dead.

This particular post was started because there was no internet connection for a short while and so the two books I ordered couldn’t be downloaded: Roger Daltrey’s autobiography and something about how secret occult societies such as the Rosicrucians have played an important part in shaping our own history.

You just can’t escape your cultural references, can you?

I suspect it will be interesting to compare the difference between the benign occult societies and malign deep state actors.

Originally, I had wanted in my first post from India to tell of my initial impressions, of the security guard at the bank with a decades’ old shotgun flung across his back, or the trip to Gandhi’s old residence the day after the anniversary of his assassination, but somehow…the old stuff just crept in again.

Last night I finished reading an account of how JFK was most likely assassinated by the American deep state forces in the military, CIA and civil service back then who were keen – nay, desperate – to invade Cuba, start an anti-communist war in Vietnam and launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the Russian-dominated Soviet Union. With only the elected American president holding them in check. The same way Ghandi’s assailant hadn’t wanted unity and peace years before that.

Plus ça change?

Sixty years on those same deathly, war-mongering tendencies fuelled by hatred and fear are continuing to fill the headspace of a great many people. Myself included.

And I and others are absolutely sick of it.

We all want to get on with our lives full of peace and love and what we get is more of these unnecessary conflicts and wars engineered by hate-filled sociopaths whose only desire is to bring down as much misery as they can on as great a many people as they possibly can. These people hate themselves and project all their hatred onto others. Wishing they could be dead themselves, they seek to exterminate all other people (who remind them that they are alive and exist). These Americans hate the entire human race and would like to either enslave it or wipe it out, starting with people of colour and a different ethnic background to their own. Oil is just an excuse. They would destroy the planet, if allowed. People like the current National Security Advisor and special envoy to Venezuela are just symptoms of the American existentialist disease. The US Secretary of State openly seeks Armageddon by way of the most pathetic Christian/Judaic ‘rapture’. These are genuinely disturbed people at the helm, with a nincompoop president not helping matters at all.

I am listening to early Pink Floyd in Mumbai while the ceiling fan rotates and the pigeons coo on the balcony and thinking yet again about the psychopaths who wish to destroy a healthy populace who have never caused the world any harm – filled only with good intentions, and am reminded that my early cultural coordinates aided by technology just about keep me in touch with those positive memories and continued aspirations, hopes and desires for a world where the people-killing war-machines of those lethal mechanistic, ideological states from the West fade away into the hellish regions from whence they came.

Welcome to my headspace.

Books by Glyn Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available at Amazon and bookstores are the world

Rosicrucian on the Amazon

It’s such a beautiful image that I can’t refrain from sharing. My daughter is reading her old man’s latest book ROSICRUCIAN as she floats down the Amazon river to Brazil. This after she had unexpectedly met with Rosicrucian musicians who were traveling through Colombia with permission to visit some sacred hill temples.

rosicrucian copy

We were supposed to be joining her, but the death of my mother on Boxing Day means that we have had to change our own plans drastically. Rather than hole up in a comfortable condo on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the Carnival, we’re more likely to be seeing out the next couple of months in an empty end-of-terrace in the East End of London.

Remarkably, I used this setting in my very first book QUESTION.

Question_Cover_for_Kindle

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To a Slogan-free and Flavorful Existence!

There’s mainstream, there’s alternative, and there’s – complete stand alone.

This blog falls into the third camp. If you think about it, the first two are just different sides of the same coin. What I prefer to use is a brand new currency.rosicrucian copy

Take my new book, ROSICRUCIAN.

It claims to be a novel, but is really a genre mash-up.

It bigs up mystical knowledge, but does down people from current organisations.

It destroys religious teachings, but purports to open a gateway to God.

It does away with prejudices and classifications altogether.

My mother died this Yuletide so 2019 is going to have a different complexion to previous years from the get go.

That suits me fine, since the constant right/left, rich/poor, good/bad dichotomies leave me tired and bored.

If you share my need and desire for something so utterly profound and new that a paradigm shift of some sort is required, you might start by taking a look at these books written over the past thirty years:

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I’d like to think that similar-minded people acting together in both active and passive distribution mode can lead to a better-thinking society, one in which black/white, on/off, backwards/forwards are no more than misleading abstractions.

TO A SLOGAN-FREE AND FLAVORFUL EXISTENCE!

Assange

Back in 1982 I began working on a novel about a young man who blows up an exclusive club in London to demonstrate his hatred of the neo-liberal agenda and attendant neo-con policies: the contrived ever-lasting wars, austerity measures, pro-elite/anti-social laws, and so on.

The novel was supposed to be a wake-up call about what was happening in capitalist societies – a warning of what would inevitably occur if monetarism and right-wing ideology was followed through.

My only surprise concerning actual events since then is that such an act of individual violence has not taken place. This suggests that people on the whole are very generous with regards to the intentions of their leaders, or that the public’s passivity knows no bounds. Perhaps it illustrates people’s innate goodness, I don’t know.Question_Cover_for_Kindle

The only acts of individual violence regularly witnessed are committed by those who have been deranged by social, military or religious pressure.

Mainly, as ever, the violence continues to be carried out by authorities on behalf of the state, either on its own citizens or in foreign countries.

This situation cannot be allowed to continue.

The whole world is under existential threat as a result of the violent policies being pursued in capitalist societies. Either war or environmental catastrophe have the very real potential to destroy the planet upon which we depend for survival.

Thankfully, more and more people are waking up to this prospect and recognising from where the real threat to their well-being emanates.

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Rosicrucian Knowledge

In my just completed novel there are many references to the Rosicrucians, old and new.

In case anyone is not familiar with the Rosicrucian tradition, here are a few pointers.

No one really knows when existence began – or if it ever really had any beginning at all.

If there was no beginning, then there can surely be no end.

So in that case what exists is only and purely eternity.

Whatever you may know outside of this truth can only be illusion.

Overcoming this state of uncertainty leads to true knowledge.

In theory, anyone can reach this end point of realisation and understanding.bees rc

In practice, few know where to begin.

Which is where the Rosicrucians come in.

Down through the centuries knowledge of the path to certainty has been handed down from culture to culture. The Rosicrucians are a part of this process.

In the seventeenth century proclamations in writing appeared in various important European cities announcing the re-discovery of the eternal wisdom as it had been experienced and passed down through the generations. This learning, it was said, now lay in the hands of an organisation consisting of the members of the ‘rosy cross’. Hence the name ‘Rosicrucian’. People were invited to join, but had to find their own way to make contact with the organisation.rc

And so it remains today. The big difference now, if there really is any, is that people are less likely to be persecuted for seeking the truth which exists beyond the illusion of everyday existence. At least, one would like to think so… Even if you believe this is so, there is still a great deal of ignorance and hostility to the idea which has to be overcome, not to mention personal prejudice.

Still, with clear-sightedness, strong purpose and the courage to pursue what currently appears possible only in the imagination, full knowledge is attainable through the right means.

This is why there are so many references to the Rosicrucians in my just completed novel ROSICRUCIAN rosicrucian copy

Novels by GLYN F RIDGLEY are available from Amazon and bookstores worldwide