Categorically India

by J.R.

I wanted to share some pictures from a recent trip to India. I tried my best to categorize them, though they tend to overlap at times.





These women are kneading Cow Dung:

And they make these dung-patties to use as a cheap source of fuel:

Aside from all the trash on this walk to the mosque, you passed many crippled, leprous beggars, none of whom I photographed. Some of the cripples apparently received injuries from their parents, hoping to receive a higher return when begging…

Close up of the trash-goats:


When we got to the top all we could see was mist:

Then the thunder stopped and the mist parted:




Marine Drive Mumbai:

Babyvitruvius asked me if Lacan is still relevant in India…well they do worship the phallus:

and I found this at the Reliance Mart in Mysore:

Allen Ginsberg writes:

“Fuck Kali
Fuck all Hindu Goddesses
Because they are all prostitutes
[I like to Fuck]
All Hindu Goddesses are Prostitutes
Fuck Ma Kali
Mary is not a prostitute because she was a virgin
Christians don’t Worship prostitutes
like the Hindus
Fuck ma Kali Fuck
Fuck all Hindu Goddesses Kali Because they are all prostitutes
I like to Fuck all Hindu Goddesses”

(You cannot see the scale here: this is an 8th century floor to ceiling frieze-sculpture carved into a cave wall)

my favorite kind of lady:

bad girl:

These ladies were all for sale:


The Men of India were much easier to meet than the women, at least for me. And though the housewife is apparently the master of all recipes, it was always the men that we found cooking in public.

This is Amju. He seemed to want to be friends with me, then after awhile it seemed he just wanted me to pay him a rickshaw fare.

So, the reason I went to India is because I am the dosa cook for the brilliant chef Paul, who incidentally wrote all the code for this site. Here then is my alter-ego in Mysore:

Paul’s dosas are really just as good, though in India they use ghee (butter) and the coconut chutney is damn spicy:

Hopefully this summer we will be making Indian-spiced popcorn, like this guy:

They might have made my favorite dish, bhelpuri (these are filled with tamarind water): buzz...
  1. A.P. Jul. 21st, 2013

    I find your addition of Ginsburg’s poem to be off-putting. This is not because of some discomfort about sexuality that tends to animate such objections against appropriations of Hindu symbols and icons by ‘the West,’ but because from a non-academic perspective it just seems callous (though I know you were going for irony and cleverness). From an academic perspective it seems lazy, because you certainly know the dangers in saying things like ‘Hindus worship the phallus.’ As someone who might be categorized as Hindu-American (though in the American milieu I’d rather claim atheism), the inability to accept that Shiva’s iconic representation is that of a phallus among most Hindus I know is incredibly frustrating. Just like the way Hindus refuse to see the phallic representations everywhere for what they are, thus undermining the power of the image itself, the American academy also refuses to accept that such offhand remarks and characterizations undermine its ability to reach beyond its limited audience of mostly privileged caucasians (and Jews). If this blog is supposed to be an attempt to make criticism more accessible to the average internet inhabitant, you can do better.

  2. J.R. Jul. 21st, 2013

    You know, my remark about “Hindus worshipping the phallus” is directed to one person in particular, Babyvitrivuis. So you are right to feel a certain animosity to its laziness, etc. I do believe that what Lacan calls the phallus, that little fleck that inaugurates all signification, is indeed what we all worship. And in this sense, the simplicity and straightforwardness of the Shiva lingam is something I find quite profound. As for your critique about the Ginsburg quotation, I think I have an entirely different interpretation. I think Ginsburg is being quite loving and kind to the goddesses, he is saying you are allowed to touch them, that you can commune with them, that they are not transcendent, pure, and haughty. This is also something I experienced throughout India, the ability to touch sculptures of gods and goddesses, to paint them, to throw butter on them. All things which contrast greatly to the aura of conservation found in European churches. So your estimation of callousness, laziness, irony and cleverness are surprising to say the least. If anything, I am lazy, in that I didn’t explicate, but this was mainly supposed to be a picture book.

  3. A.P. Jul. 21st, 2013

    And I am, admittedly, sensitive to anything Shaiva/Shakta presented in public without context for reasons having to do with both what I have seen as an overraction of interested parties and academic laziness which seems to characterize a lot of psychoanalytical approaches to Hinduism (which is obviously not what this is). It is clear it is a picture book, and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter much. As for Ginsburg, the culture-creators of his generation obviously found something more accessible in Shaiva/Shakta traditions and philosophies, but regardless of his intention his method of delivery is one that begs the question of how much is appropriate.

    One could level a charge of prudishness at me for being bothered by it, but I really don’t think the Western understanding of tantra/shaivism has gone to the level that would make it clear that a part of Ginsburg’s life was spent battling the forces of repression within the Hare Krishna movement, for example. I think what I was more trying to say (but did not say very nicely) was that if I had not already had context for what you were trying to convey from my time spent parsing the relationship between Western counterculture and ‘Hinduism,’ I would have been offended, and that is something that American academics are often not self aware about. I’m sorry for being callous in my critique, as it were.

  4. S.W.K.C. Jul. 22nd, 2013

    I have no idea what you are talking about. It would appear that you have little idea what you are talking about, given your bizarrely obtuse sentence structures. The only thing that you really make clear in your comments is that you are in the “milieu” of Hindu/Americans and when it comes to India, even if you agree with JR, it is you who have authority to make these statements. Especially over a Jew. (as it were)

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