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    Hi sci-mates,

    I was going through an advertising section on a European country which
    appeared in a popular magazine recently,  and was impressed by the
    flowery but incredibly vacuous descriptions of places which they were
    eager to recommend to me.
    
    This got me thinking about a completely different kind of guide to
    India, and how I would go about writing one in my own twisted way...
    So, here goes...
    
    Prem!

    %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
    %                                                                      %
    %                  Prem!'s Tourist Guide To India                      %
    %                                                                      %
    %                           - by Prem!                                 %
    %                    Berkeley, December 21, 1994                       %
    %                                                                      %
    %            Bouquets/Brickbats to:  prem@prem.lbl.gov                 %
    %                                                                      %
    % All rights (and wrongs) pertaining to this article are reserved by   %
    % the author.  You are free to distribute copies of this article as    %
    % long as it is not for financial benefit, and both the author's name  %
    % and this copyright notice accompany the article.                     %
    %                                                                      %
    % Some inspiration from Daniel Bowen, (creator of the Toxic Custard    %
    % Workshop Files)  who allegedly lives in Melbourne,  Australia.       %
    %                                                                      %
    %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%


    This guide has been hand-crafted from the finest electrons for your
    reading pleasure.  "Why?" you ask?  Er... supply grumble mumble
    demand.  So here is the guide to my country, India.

    India is known by various names, ranging from The Jewel In The Crown to
    The Land of Snake Charmers.  However, most Indians would be surprised
    to hear either of these things, because they consider India as being
    the place in which they live,  and which fits neither of these
    descriptions at all.

    A famous guy whose name is not important (chiefly because I cannot rem-
    member it) once said in a weak moment, "Everything that you hear about
    India is true.  The opposite is also true."  What an idiot...  Anyway,
    this probably may go a long way towards explaining why tourists in India
    (that includes YOU, stupid)  usually feel like they do not know whether
    to laugh or to cry.  Especially when the natives keep laughing at you
    most of the time.


    Location
    ========
    Unless it moved recently, India is located on the southern edge of
    Asia, which is rather neat because we are right next to the Indian
    ocean too.  Would have confused people otherwise, I mean, imagine
    finding the Indian ocean there and seeing India somewhere on the
    other side of the world.  Well, luckily for map-makers, that isn't
    the case unlike for instance, _a_certain_European_colonial_power_
    _whom_we_shall_not_identify_by_name, who is not located anyhere near
    French Samoa.


    How to get there
    ================
    Getting there is half the fun, especially if you fly Air India (A.I.),
    the national airline.  The domestic airline is Indian Airlines (I.A.),
    which is rather clever because they can re-use the same letters in the
    acronym.  We heard recently that having picked up some knowledge about
    other alphabets, practically everyone and his brother is now starting
    up local airlines, such as Vayudoot, Damania and Megalomania.

    The conventional way to enter the country is through one of the inter-
    national airports which are in Bombay, New Delhi, Calcutta and Madras.
    Most people who land there are headed somewhere else in India, which
    might make you wonder why the airports were set up there in the first
    place, but that's the way it is,  and remember that you are just a
    measly tourist and who the heck are you to tell us where to put our
    airports anyway?   And oh yeah, I was asked to welcome you, even if I
    thought you were a poor, sad excuse for a human as long as you were
    fool enough to give us your money.  So, Welcome to India.

    For the more adventurous minded tourist, there are other ways of
    entering the country, such as first going to Pakistan and crossing the
    border into Kashmir.  Should you choose this route,  the Pakistani
    government provides you (at no extra charge) with the latest in US
    Army surplus AK-47s as an incentive.  (Offer good till supplies last.
    The Government of Pakistan reserves the right to substitute other
    weaponry without prior notice.)  While this means you can get an all-
    expenses-paid trip to the Kashmir Valley, the catch is that it is very
    difficult to get travel insurance on this trip.  Something to do with
    getting killed or something.  I dunno.

    You can choose to travel to Bangladesh first, which also provides free
    infiltration services, particularly into the Northeastern parts of
    India, but I hear that tourism is difficult in those regions.  The 
    natives in Northeastern India don't speak English anymore, since they
    have discovered that assault rifles are a more lucid way of getting the
    point across to dumbfucks illegally crossing over the border from
    Bangladesh.  Besides, this way they don't have to worry about dangling
    participles and split infinitives,  always a problem when you try to
    communicate in English.  They are reported to ask questions later, a
    point which is of little comfort to anyone who's been shot first.
    Besides, you would first have to go to Bangladesh, and who wants to do
    that.

    Finally, you could take the boat ride from Sri Lanka to India, but the
    catch is that you won't be able to see much of India because you will
    be sent back on the next boat to Sri Lanka.  Not much of India you can
    see in an afternoon.


    Indian hospitality
    ==================
    Foreign tourists are welcome in most parts of India, and are referred to
    as "gora firangi",  which is Indian for "fat-assed foreign bastard with
    diarrhea and way too much money".  Where does the diarrhea come into the
    picture?  Well I'd rather not go into the details, you know well enough
    where it does.  If you want to know where you got it from, I would say
    the water, or the food, or the air.  Of course the real reason is that
    you are a wimpy foreigner whose stomach isn't strong enough to take care
    of itself, and we are just too damn polite to say so to your face.  The
    least you could do is to quit whining.  Thank you.


    People
    ======
    First of all, there are a lot of them.  Get used to it.  There are so
    many of them that India's primary contribution to the sociological
    spectrum is the mob.  They come in various shapes and sizes,  primarily
    in two sexes (stop sniggering, sex in this context means gender),  and
    range from fair to dark.  Most people of marriageable age can be
    identified easily because they turn a distinctive colour best described
    as "wheatish complexioned".

    Indian names are difficult to pronounce, which is why most Indian kids
    have nicknames like Babloo.  If you forget someone's name, I would
    advise you against referring to him as Whatsisface, simply because
    there may be some guy within earshot called Chandragupta Harshavardhana
    Whatsisface and he may think you are talking about him.  If you have to,
    at least say Mr. Whatsisface, and pray that there isn't a woman around
    called Mrs. Whatsisface.  Better still, keep your big mouth shut, but
    this may be impossible to do if you are an American tourist.

    Among the millions of unknown and unimportant Indians are some
    well-known and unimportant ones, such as:

      Amitabh Bachchan - Tall actor and alleged philanderer
      Rajesh Khanna  - alleged actor and wife-deserter
      Dimple Kapadia - alleged actress and deserted-wife
      Pooja Bedi     - bimbo
      Sunjay Dutt    - alleged actor II and suspected terrorist
      N. T. Ramarao  - alleged regional actor and skilled cross-dresser
      Ravi Shankar   - sitar player who prefers to live in America
      Zakir Hussain  - hairy tabla player who prefers to live in California
      Rajiv Gandhi   - corrupt ex-Prime Minister  I, Dead. Resting in Pieces.
      V. P. Singh    - crooked ex-Prime Minister II, Brain Dead.

    This list has only included a few people. There are about nine hundred
    million more, so your chance of meeting any of the above in India is
    pretty slim.  Still,  we gave you a little background on them; just in
    case you ran across one of them so you wouldn't look like a darned fool.
    Probably too late for that, but at least now it won't be our fault.


    Places
    ======
    There are thousands of places you could go to in India, and some of
    them are even interesting to go to.

      The Taj Mahal:  This is well-known around the world as one of the
      --------------  most hyper-hyped tourist places of all time.  Most
      foreign tourists seem to think that it is a mosque,  but they are
      wrong (bloody typical, isn't it!).  It is a tomb, built to bury a
      queen.  After she died of course, they weren't barbarians or
      anything.  Her husband thought it would be a cool idea to have a
      massive erection for his dead wife,  which is pretty perverted, if
      you ask me.  I mean, the old bag was dead, for chrissakes.  Anyway,
      different strokes for different folks.

      The Red Fort:  Well, it is a fort, and um... it is kind of red,  but
      -------------  I guess you expected that anyway.  It is located in
      Old Delhi, to which I guess you can go from New Delhi by doing some
      nifty time-travel.  Heh heh, no actually that's just a joke and you
      are supposed to laugh now. Thanks.  You don't need a time-machine,
      you can just take a taxi.

      Corbett National Park:  Basically a jungle, but we figure you would
      ----------------------  pay good money to go stay there (and get
      out of our hair for a while) if we told you that you could see some
      tigers there.  Kind of ironic, since Corbett was known for killing
      tigers.  Sort of like starting up a chain of Kosher Deli's named
      after that Hitler bloke.

      Khajuraho:  A bunch of dilapidated temples in the middle of nowhere,
      ----------  but it just goes to show you how far people would go as
      long as there was some sex involved.  You can think of it as Debbie
      Does Dallas in stone.  Statues of men and women (and assorted
      barnyard animals) indulging in sexual acts which,  aside from some
      of them being illegal under existing Indian laws,  can be best
      described as falling into the "Can you really do that" category.
      A source of inspiration to young honeymooners and middle-aged
      foreign tourists alike, and a source of rich livelihood to local
      orthopaedic surgeons and emergency paramedics.

      Kashmir:  Snow-capped mountains, serene lakes, quaint ageless
      --------  traditions, and beautiful valleys which are filled with
      the sounds of staccato gunfire.  Stroll through centuries old
      marketplaces, touch lovingly handcrafted local ware, and witness a
      real-life kidnapping by local terrorists,  or get caught in an
      exciting cross-fire between the army and the terrorists.  Look up
      at the clear blue skies at just the right moment (timing is
      everything) and you may see a rocket bomb arcing gracefully through
      the air.  Unparalleled scenic beauty and violent armed civil unrest,
      a combination you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere in the
      world.

      Rajasthan:  Desert, mostly,  but the kings built palaces there with
      ----------  a keen eye on the twentieth century tourist industry.
      They also have an annual camel-trading show,  where a lot of tourists
      like to get into the way of local camel traders trying to run their
      business. Still, if sand turns you on, you'll find plenty of it here.

      Other Stuff:  Not to be outdone, there are hundreds of places with
      ------------  really no inherent tourist appeal which would love to
      have you visit them and support the local skin-the-tourist industry.



    Languages
    =========
    English is spoken widely, but understood somewhat less widely.
    Exceptions are regions such as Assam (see above) and Kashmir, where
    the locals, presumably disenchanted with the peculiarities of English
    grammar, have made creative use of alternative ways to express
    themselves.

    Sometimes you may come across signs which seem to be English, but
    make no sense anyway...
    Such as: "Xerox photocopy done in Telugu, Kannada and English."
	 or: "Limca - The zero bacteria drink"

    There are several hundred local languages, none of which you have any
    hope of understanding, so let us just forget that for now.


    Politics
    ========
    India follows a parliamentary democratic form of government, in which
    the people get together every five years and decide which party they
    hate the least, and this party gets to rule until the people find a
    party they hate even less.  In this respect, India is just like any
    other democracy.  The losing party usually vanishes, breaks up, merges
    with the winning party, figures out which ideology would get them the
    most votes and reconvenes with a different name in time for the next
    election.


    Sports
    ======
    The most popular sport is cricket, which the Indians picked up from the
    British.  The Pommie bastards have been looking for it ever since, with
    little success, heh heh.  There are several versions, such as "tennis
    ball cricket", "street cricket", "hostel corridor cricket", "half pitch
    cricket", "one day cricket" and "that's not cricket".  The fundamental
    rules are common across these various forms.

      - There are two sides, one out in the field and one in.
      - Each man that's in the side that's in goes out and when he's out he
        comes back in and the next man goes in, (that is out) until he's out
        at which point he comes in.
      - When all the men in the side that's in are out, the side that's out
        comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those
        coming in out.
      - Sometimes you get men still in and not out!  When both sides have
        been in and out including the not outs, that's the end of the game.
        Unless the game is washed out, in which case no one gets to go in,
        but everyone stays inside and no one gets out.
      - The bowling takes place in overs, in which the bowler can hurl the
        ball as fast as he can at the wicket to get the batsman out, and
        the batsman who is in tries to hit the ball as hard as he can. They
        seem to enjoy this sort of thing, though no one knows how the ball
        feels about it all.
      - An over lasts six balls, after which the over is over, unless it is
        Australian, when there are two more balls before the over is really
        over.

    Each match takes five days.  It takes this long because they need time
    to figure out who is in, i.e. out, and who is out, i.e. in, and who is
    not out, but not yet in.  There are one-day matches, which oddly are
    usually played at night these days (which may make you wonder why they
    don't call them one-night matches), in which everyone is in a hurry to
    get in and stay out.

    Hockey, basketball and soccer also claim that they are popular, but only
    among the people who play them. These people like these sports when there
    is no cricket to watch.

    ========================================================================

    Well, that is all I can think of.  You want to know more, go there and
    find out for yourself.

    Prem!

    :-)    :-)    :-)    :-)    :-)    :-)    :-)    :-)    :-)    :-)    :-)