Thursday, October 30, 2014

China's One Time For All

It's amazing how many visitors I get from China. Thank you. I wonder what exactly are they reading here that could excite them enough to come back and read some more. Maybe visitors here are from Hong Kong or Taiwan or maybe not. I've been to Hong Kong and even stared wistfully at the boat that would have taken me to China. Thank God, I was duly warned by friends of taking such a step: you'll never come back from there; they'll make mince meat out of you; they'll hang you by your toes. Well hanging by the toes is done in India and other places as well, so that would have hardly been unusual. From a distance, China seemed alright; everything does, even husbands, children, marriages!

Anyway, I've been checking about China's one solo uno time zone. Why, is all I ask? The country is as vast as the United States or maybe more, so why have one time zone only? It's got to do with that twerp Mao Zing Zing who made a mess of the country as any good old Communist is likely to do anyway. Beijing goes to work at 8 am and west China has to do the same before crack of dawn, somewhere around 3 am! Only the Hui and Uygurs ignore Beijing and maybe some obdurate travelers who are senile anyway. 

But apparently, Mao was the one who decided one-time-zone-one-united-country! Was that the reason? No economics here just pure political power, something China or rather its politicians are adept at, hardly different from Indian or Pakistanis or Americans or Iraqis or whoever. Just a little note here: not too many succeeded in killing millions and millions like Mao did. Exhausted with all the killing, Mao finally died only to have his wife or concubine and her gang of four get busy with more power. Commies and their penchant for ruthless power! Other than that, Mao Zing Zing didn't do anything; he didn't even brush his teeth! His teeth were black! If he liked bathing, he would have done it but Mao preferred farting! Such are the despicable ways of Dictators.

All said and done, Commies have stuck to their issue of unity for China through One Time Zone For All; people may rot and die for decades but they must remain united! Tiny little specks of countries like Hong Kong and Taiwan have been irritating big guns in China for a while but hopefully calls of freedom will wear the Chinese down. Once free, people find it hard to give it up. That is the most nasty thing about freedom. But the best thing is that people never tire trying to be free. They may not see the process winding its way around but stark reminders of what is possible - can never be ignored. The American Declaration of Independence declares loud and clear Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness for all; what could be better than this.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Traversing Blues Trail 61 to Clarksdale in Mississippi

A sleepy little town, bohemian as it can get without any unnecessary attachments, Clarksdale's corners and streets are full of graffiti. It was a place devoid of too many humans, businesses and other extras that cities carry. Many claim that Clarksdale, Mississippi is the birthplace of blues. Many Blues Musicians started here and traveled up north to Chicago etc to seek their fortunes. Since then it has been home to famous blues musicians like Muddy Waters and Son House and Blues festivals and gatherings for people from around the world.

Morgan Freeman's Ground Zero Blues Club

 Ground Zero Blues Club covered in Graffiti

Clarksdale's eating places and bars like one owned by Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman, have everything rich, fried and filling. Ground Zero Blues Club even had its ceiling full of graffiti and apparently Shaquillle O Neal's shoes were hiding from the heat of southern cooking. Clarksdale's blocks are dotted with plenty of Blues tucked in its rickety spaces; this is what Clarksdale is; it is one of those historic dots on the Blues Trail, the road that took many Blues artists from the south to the north where the music evolved from a blue hue to one of  burgeoning business. 

In Clarksdale, you'll find plenty stories from current generations descended from Blues artists and musicians. Riverside Hotel, somewhat a dark, sun-less place with its curtains down but nonetheless was full of life and beds where Bessie Smith and  Duke Ellington had slept while en route to other places. We found succor in hanging outside the hotel on metal benches with its owner Zee; here passing musicians like RazorBlade stopped, chatted and gave us their philosophy of life plus sold us some CDs; the CD-buying-business was repeated throughout the trip.

RazorBlade and Me
Barry, Zee, Me
Zee is perhaps the best of hosts a hotel can provide; we shared jokes and guffawed till it was time to leave. This is also the place where Herman the Hermit lived and took my husband for a visit to the great Mississippi River; we now have mud from the big river which we can easily pass off as exotic chocolate from some unknown lands. 

While in search of Blues, we found Clint Eastwood looming large on the wall of the city along with many others sans guns. 

Clint Eastwood and I in Clarksdale, Mississippi

Wall Paintings in Clarksdale
Wall Paintings in Clarksdale
I thought we had lost our minds and way when we arrived at a desolate area known as Shack Up Inn. With the darkness of the night, no lights and absolutely miserable looking conditions of the place, I was ready to entertain some ghosts. This was supposed to be sharecroppers' shacks during America's slave era. We were going to stay the night here, in shacks complete with sheets of tin as ceiling and black and white photographs of people from the 18th century, tissue paper stuck in holes in walls, other knick knacks stuck wherever prior visitors thought was good, and of course graffiti. We were kicked out after one night because a horde of Norwegians had booked the entire place for their Blues' Show the next day in Clarksdale.

Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale (we stayed in this shack)
With Lightnin' Malcolm, Musician, in Shack Up Inn
Thanks to Big Malcolm or Lightnin Malcolm, who jumped in our Jeep and thus became our first unofficial guide; big man brought us to Red's, a small dark and red place with some loud Blues. Big Malcolm is a Blues musician and we ended up buying his CD plus got some pictures and signatures with him. Stan Street, an artist and musician from NY did a performance while we drank beer and bought some art while hanging around his chic art gallery; Deaks played his harmonica while we bought his CD; Steve Kolbus, the effervescent Salesman, who seemed to be everywhere, talked us into buying some of his CDs as well! All in all, we from up North got thoroughly played into buying plenty of music, one way or another. 

An exhilarating performance was given by Watermelon Slim; this Blues artist clearly outdid all rock performers despite having a few teeth; we bought more CDs. From ones who didn't sell us anything were crazies like Herman, Custard Pie and beautiful Marge.

Clarksdale tricked us; it only looked sleepy!

Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale
Steve the Salesman/Musician
Private Session by Artist/Musician Stan Street, Gallery Ham Bone
OPEN sign is a joke: in search of food, exhausted
Iconic Crossroads of Highway 61 and 49
Crossroads of Highway 61 and 49
Iconic Crossroads sign of Highway 61 and 49, is what made my sis-in-law finally become overwhelmed with emotion. This is the site where allegedly Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil! We got thoroughly sold ourselves and promised to return there, again, sometime in life, when the Aussies come back for another trip to America.