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Re: Continent of Dreams
Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:21 pm
Variashipore, which sits on the Ghaghara, is said to be – by people who live there – the place where Hermachendara wrote some of his poems. Even if this isn’t true, it is still a pious city. Pious cities are often good places to have a demonstration. The main street of Variashipore, misted up as it normally was with the smoke of diesel minivans and motorcycles running on recycled oil, was frankly not the best choice for a demonstration, but still, there were demonstrators. Rather – there had been demonstrators, and now there was simply violence. Quite a lot of it, also.
Not six weeks ago there were rumours that a dosa bakery, on the main street of this small town of thirty thousand souls, was hiding a few more souls – and then a few more became ten, thirty, one hundred, so on. At first, the rumour said, with the great confidence of gossip, that a witch was living in the bakery. That witch quickly became a vampire, and then ten vampires, and then a collection of witches, vampires, dangerous dwarves, and other things don’t exist. And then the gossip reached its truthful, terminal point: inside the dosa bakery were living Oswinites.
It was obvious, local faithful Dharmans all decided. There had been a spate of very bad weather, known to be brought on by the proximity of Oswinite rituals. A great number of rats had been spotted around the bakery, but these were not normal Dharman rats. These rats were fat, and black, and had green, glowing eyes. Cats daren’t approach them. It was all confirmed when a few of the Oswinites living in the bakery decided to tempt some local children with boiled sugars, no doubt to be violated and murdered, or worse, converted to the foreign religion.
So set off the crowd, which at first was small, and by the time it proceeded to demonstrate, had grown to seem to be more people than actually lived in Variashipore. The mob, headed by ten preachers each claiming to be leader, invested the bakery, throwing up barricades around it made of cargo pallets, and demanded the Oswinists appeared to have fistly and bootly justice meted out to them.
At this point the local Yeomanry arrived, standing off next to the mob. They donned black gas masks, rolled up their khaki sleeves, and leant on their rifles. Lathis – big thick wooden sticks somewhere between a truncheon and a quarter-staff – hung from their belts. “Are they really Oswinites?” the Captain asked his Subedar.
“Oh, Yessah, definitely sah. The Captain could see the Subedar’s moustache tickling the inside of his mask. “Definitely Oswinites sah. You can smell them sah.”
“Yes,” said the Captain, through his gas mask. “Well, let’s just see what happens then.”
What happened was the mob forced the Oswinites out and began to beat them severely. It is quite a thing to see thousands of people trying to beat up on fifty people.
“Should we intervene sah? The public peace sah – she is being violated, sah. Shanti banae rakhane ke lie pavitr kartavy and all that, sah.”
“Er, no,” the Captain said. “Give it a minute.”
After a few minutes of heavy beating, the Captain gave the order, and the mob was dispersed with a volley of smoke grenades and a storming lathi charge, in which dozens of locals were heavily injured. Others were dragged off and put into a lock up overnight, and then released in the morning, as if they were drunks who had pissed on a statue. The Captain hauled all the Oswinites up and sat them in a circle.
“Now listen here,” he said, in heavily accented Ghagharan, “Who is your leader?” A young man, blood streaming down his face, put a hand in the air. The Captain pointed his lathi at him. “Look here young man. This sort of thing just won’t do. I can’t have you coming here and breaching the peace with all this kind of thing. If you don’t take it elsewhere, next time I can’t guarantee your safety.”
However, while the Oswinites did leave, they returned the next week and re-occupied the bakery, at which point it was promptly burned into the ground by the mob and all the Oswinites either beaten to death or thrown into the Ghaghara, where they would certainly drown. Nobody could say they weren’t warned. And anyway, they were troublemakers. Just the day before, a storm had blown in and the roofs of several houses were torn away, and, as everybody knows, the baking of Oswinite bread causes storms.
Re: Continent of Dreams
Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:57 pm
Amara knocked her knees together. It wobbled the little plastic street-side table, so her father, Vihan, steadied it. 'Stop that,' he said.
From inside the restaurant, the smell of food wafted out, and mixed with the sound of people shouting about nothing. Amara pushed some food around with her fork. She had collected all the chicken to the side of the bowl, then whirled the spinach around her finger and pushed it into her mouth, careful not to allow the fingernails to connect with her lips.
'Amara, eat your chicken. And, use your fork.'
'But we are Dharmans, we don't eat chicken. All the children make fun of me for eating chicken.' Amara began to cry.
'If you don't be quiet I will bring my belt to you, Providence Help Me,' Vihan said, resting back in his chair. He had noticed that neither his wife nor his youngest daughter had touched their chicken either, but Amara was old enough that he could achieve something from bullying her. If only Providence had granted him a son!
Amara stayed quiet, but did not eat her chicken. Vihan didn't protest to this - in fact, he didn't care at all whether she ate it or not. That she, and his wife, and his youngest daughter, were seen to be at a place where meat was cooked and eaten was enough. 'And, drink your cola,' he said.
'I don't like cola. I want to drink sarsa,' Amara said.
Vihan ignored this. He paid the bill and left a tip, making sure to say 'this one is for you' to the waiter, who ignored his gesture but took the money. He guided his family through the narrow streets of Dahod. Wooden boards covered gaps in the ancient sidewalk, but rather than allow his children, who wore shoes, to play in the mud and dirt, Vihan forced them to walk. This met further resistance.
When they got back to their flat, a one-room affair about ten minutes walk from the market (Dahod, like most Questarian provincial towns, is divided not into geographical or industrial districts, but by market places), Vihan took off his belt and gave Amara five lashes. She scurried away to sit in the corner.
'Vihan, the water tap is not working again,' his wife said. She turned around with a scowl. 'Why did we leave the village for this? What tap! My mother had water from the well just across her door. This is no way to live.' She went on and on like this, so Vihan lifted up his belt again, and she was quiet.
'I will go to Mr Singh and I will ask him politely to have it fixed. He will settle this as a man of the law,' Vihan said. He got up, put his belt back on, and walked five minutes down the road. A motorbike splashed mud on his trousers, and he reached for his belt, but his persecutor was long gone. Vihan decided to give Amara another lash instead when he got home.
On the way to Mr Singh's office, Vihan thought about his position. He had a good job at the cigarette paper factory - through hard work he had moved up from being a derisory machine operator to being someone of importance - the vice foreman. Of course, although Vihan could read, he could not count, which meant that he could go no further. Still, five dollars a day was enough to rent that flat and put shoes on his childrens feet. His wife constantly complained he would never be able to pay dowry for his daughters. That was true, he thought, but it was her fault anyway. Two daughters and no sons?
And this issue would hardly be resolved if she kept refusing to meet him behind the outhouse when the children were in bed. Perhaps he would have to be bolder and simply carry on with it in the house. It was financially mandatory to have a son, or else he would never be able to afford dowry for Amara or her sister.
Perhaps if he had a son, he would send his son to a school, where he could read and write. Then, he could become a clerk. The clerks at the factory made eighteen dollars a day. That was good money. His son could buy him a suit. Perhaps, he could teach him to count. Then he could become a clerk. He could buy a motorcycle, and splash dirt on stupid Dharmans. This life, the life he had chosen in the city, was a good idea. Providence had brought great riches to the white men and the Sikhs and the other funny foreigners. Why his family, neighbours, friends, and co-workers could not see this, and could not join him in the Great Conversion, Vihan did not understand.
Life in Vihan's imagination was simple. The sign that announced Mr Singh's office pulled Vihan back to reality. He climbed the stairs and knocked on the door. Mr Singh, the landlord, was sat behind a great desk, with a miniature fan in the corner. His associate - no, Vihan thought, it must be his son - Mr Singh would have a son - sat on a chair watching a small television.
'Mr Singh, I am one of your tenants. The tap has broken in my room. Our tenancy agreement says you are obliged to repair it.'
Mr Singh did not look up from his newspaper. A horse and jockey was splashed across the page, Vihan saw. Yes, Mr Singh would be the type of man to bet on horses - Providence was likely with him. When he became a clerk, Vihan thought, he would bet on horses too. Perhaps he'd bet on horses with his son. His son would be able to count, which would help. Then again, if Vihan was a clerk, he'd be able to count too. Vihan's head hurt a little, and he blinked. Neither of the men had addressed him.
Mr Singh finally looked up. 'Have you read your tenancy agreement?'
'No,' Vihan said. 'But, many people have told me -'
'It says nothing of the sort. Go away.'
Vihan stood. Thoughts of sons and tenancy agreements and counting and reading flooded his mind. The jockey on the paper seemed to stare at him.
'Go on man,' the associate, the son, said. 'Piss off, idiot.'
Vihan left. He did not think about this on the walk home. Later, when the children were asleep, he spat on his finger to make his wife ready and concentrated on the task at hand: a son.
Re: Continent of Dreams
Posted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:10 pm
Rain slammed against the windscreen. 'Terrible weather,' the taxi driver said. He could barely make out the neon signs in front of him. Motorcycles, their drivers covered in cheap plastic foldable ponchos, weaved in and out of the traffic. The girl in the back said nothing. Glued to her little phone. He turned the music up.
'Classics okay for you?' he said.
To his surprise, she replied. 'My mother loves this song.' She hummed along.
'Going anywhere nice?'
What he really meant to say was - you shouldn't be out here on your own. For some reason, he felt like his warning would go unheeded anyway. A good taxi driver doesn't give unsolicited advice, he knew. He'd been in the business a while.
'Just a friend,' she said.
'Uncle!' she giggled. 'Some girlfriends. We're going to see a movie.'
'You new here?'
'I'm from Jakhoda,' she said. Answer: yes.
He grunted. Nearly there now, anyway. He pulled the car over to the side. She handed him some notes and said thank you and got out. He watched her go. Very short skirt. The driver hoped she would be safe. He had a daughter. Suddenly, he drew the window down and shouted. 'Girl!' She came back.
'Did I miss any change, uncle?'
He passed her an umbrella. Her mouth opened. 'Just take it.' The horns behind him began to beep. Motherfucker! Asshole, get out the way. She took it and was about to say thank you, but he just drove off. Work to be done. Money to be made.
Kahan watched her come over. The rain was heavy indeed. At least she had an umbrella. As she got closer, he could see she was the right type. Long legs, doesn't mind showing them, long straight hair - sure, she'd do. She dove underneath the covering by the little cafe, safe from the rain, and looked around. As she was close enough, Kahan could tell she wasn't a city girl. Make-up sloppy. She was trying too hard.
'Ambika?' he stood up.
'Oh, you're Kahan? Nice to meet you.' Nice smile.
Kahan loved being a photographer. His camera was his life. It wasn't a very prestigious job, but he got to meet a lot of girls. They all want to be in a photoshoot these days. They all want to be on the front of a magazine. And they think it's well paid.
They made small talk. He sized her up, paid her compliments, hooked her in. He agreed to try to shoot her and said he could get her into a magazine. Not likely, but possible. He never completely lied. Lies were so obvious, especially to women, even the naive ones. Instead, Kahan hedged. Don't let people see a glimmer of hope; let them see a glimmer of doubt. Then they ignore it, and when they do, it's their fault - and they know it. He let her see the glimmer.
She chose to ignore it.
So as it transpired, a few weeks later, after a few shoots and no money, her cousin, who she was staying with in a crappy flat, was going to kick her out. She came to his house with one bag of clothes, and the type of trust you give to your only friend in a new city. She could stay as long as she liked, but feeding her might become expensive. She'd have to make herself useful. She suggested she could clean. That might do, Kahan said. As usual, Kahan let her see the glimmer of doubt.
This time, she didn't ignore it.
Kahan didn't believe in luck, or fate, but he did believe in Kahan. He believed in Kahan even more when he undid her blouse and she said nothing.
Geeti paced up and down. She hated Melbourne Central. It was a nice station, back in the day, before the oil and gas people had come. Now it was just too busy. So many people. She checked her phone again. Her husband complaining about the servant. She only came one day a week - what's there to complain about? It was three dollars. He spent that in thirty minutes gambling with his friends. Geeti was old enough. Sixty five and children all moved out and he expects her to do housework?
There's no point marrying a man with a good job if he can't pay a servant to clean the toilet. Geeti wasn't doing that at her age. Not with the - anyway.
Now her daughter was sending her pictures. They appeared on her phone but she couldn't make out anything at all. They were grey and there was a grey spinning circle in the middle. She would look later. Maybe the phone was having trouble. The neighbour's son would make it work.
Geeti paid the fifty cents to use the bathroom. At least the coming of the oil and gas people had improved that. It was clean and you could buy nice tissues for ten cents. She looked at herself in the mirror.
You're old now. You shouldn't be out doing these things. The bag of shirts for her grandson's first day at school somehow felt heavy. You should be with your friends. Play some bridge.
She left the toilet and made a mental note to get everyone together to play some bridge. Maybe the servant could cook fritters. That would be pleasant indeed. Her husband could pay for it. Would pay for it.
Geeti was deep in thought when a girl set upon her. 'Help, auntie. I'm pregnant and I don't know anybody here and I need a ticket to Jakhoda and I have no money.' She was crying. Yeah, right, Geeti thought. Just the other day a man had approached her and her husband in the street with wild eyes and said he needed money for his children. Her husband had raised his walking stick and made comments about drugs. The wild man had set off after that. But Geeti didn't have a stick.
'Please, auntie,' she said, clutching her stomach. 'He kicked me out.'
Geeti looked her over. She looked wild. Geeti couldn't tell if she was on drugs, but she looked wild, and the man the other day had looked wild, and her husband had said he was on drugs. It all fit together neatly. Geeti stepped away, but the girl followed her. Angrily, Geeti pointed at her short skirt. 'Nobody gets pregnant without help. Now go away.'
And just as it happened, the rescue arrived: a taxi pulled up. The door opened, and Geeti quickly got in, safe from the wild girl outside. 'I tell you,' she said, placing her bag on her lap. 'The people at this place nowadays. They ought to station a Provost here. It's getting too much.' They pulled off, and Geeti saw her sitting on the steps, head in hands.
Her phone pinged. It was working now. Pictures of her granddaughter flooded the phone. This was good, Geeti decided. She would show her friends during bridge.
Re: Continent of Dreams
Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:14 pm
THE SOUTHFurther informationGeography
The south begins at around 1°North in its most northern point, declining 13°South at its most southernly point. Its total land area is approximately 485,635 square miles. Of this, around 25,000 square miles are owned by the armed forces. The vast majority of its climate is considered tropical moist forest, with average temperatures above 29.5°C and mean annual rainfall from 1,500 to 4,230mm. More than 60% of the south of Questers is wilderness, including the expansive Batagan cloud forest and temperate broadleaf forests in the Shan highlands. The Shan highlands can reach up to 20,000 feet in elevation, and there a montane grassland climate prevails. Most of the coast is covered in A monsoon occurs during September to November, but there is rain all year round. The climate is ideal for the planting of rice, bananas, tobacco, cocoa, and coffee, which are staple exports for the region. Demography
The population of the south is around 51 million persons, with substantially fewer squatters than in other parts of the country. The density is 105 persons per square mile. Most counties are defined by their culture and ethnicity, most of which have their own language; there are around 15 major ethnic groups and eight languages, although there are over fifty dialects. Around 10% of the population speak fluent Sennish. Another 40% have basic knowledge. Around 5% of the population is totally illiterate in any language whatsoever.
Urbanisation varies across the region. In Dusunistan and Katagalugan, where most of the interior is under/undeveloped cloud forest, and in Shanistan where much of the land is barren highland or under/undeveloped temperate forest, urbanisation is high; more than 75%. However, in counties like Kaidailand, Battambang, Kachinistan and Chindwinistan where most of the land is cultivated and used for agriculture, urbanisation is much lower: 49%, averaged across all four.
The southerners moved into their respective areas at least four thousand years ago. Their ancestors crossed the Rayana river from Yamatai and moved slowly across the difficult terrain, learning slash and burn agriculture in order to move while sustaining life. They took their ancient religion [High Dharmat-Kaihō] with them, blending it into generations worth of folklore to create a syncretic mix of High Dharmat and folk religion. The average total fertility rate of the southern cultures is 2.9; this has declined in recent years, as advances in medicine have allowed life expectancy to grow significantly. The average life expectancy of the southerners is 65 for men and women. The south is still a young country; more than half of its population are below the age of 40.
Around 90% of the population are ethnically southern. Of the remaining 10%, 5% are Malay immigrants, 2.5% are Wallacrataeans, and 2.5% are Sikh or Dharmans on commercial postings.Politics and Law
The southern counties were best understood as protectorates of the Company rather than equal partners or as members of the Commonwealth. The Company attempted limited commercial arrangements, attempting, unsuccessfully, to establish a tobacco and coffee monopoly. The biggest success of the Company was in its arrangements which stopped the southern races from fighting one another in what had previously been genocidal wars. However, after the 1997 Lunar War, integration accelerated, especially with the construction of better infrastructure. The southern counties raised large armed forces for the Mutiny. This was not due to ideological differences, but a general belief that the Syndicalists were an organised form of Low Dharmat who would try to inflict genocide on the south if they won the war.
A dual legal system exists in most of the south, except for the old Company towns which are strictly common law. Everywhere in the south allows a person to flee justice in the customary courts of the local region and take refuge in the outposts of the common law, or to appeal to a common law court if they feel a decision went against them unjustly. The other party must accept the decision of the common law court over the customary law court, but this can often come at severe social cost to the appellant, who might even suffer social death. However, use of the common law courts is widespread in disputes between different customary courts, and when engaging with the outside world.Economy
Total estimated gross national product of the south is around $659 billion, with a per-capita gnp of $12,900. Complete estimates of income, wealth, and land value are difficult as more than 40% of the southerners do not have bank accounts and more than 95% of the land has never been surveyed. More than 50% of the land is owned collectively and governed by complex and lethargic tribal laws. For instance, the clearing of land in the Batagan forest for an economic purpose requires the assent of every head of household in the forest, which if not obtained in one period between the monsoon, has to be carried out again. Those areas owned by a single person or family, usually an aristocrat, are much easier to develop.
Other than agricultural products, the main exports include high quality timber, palm oil and rubber. There are some marine insurance and administration services in Eulalia and Hollandia. Transportation, including ports, is a major part of the economy. There is little heavy industry. Since the mid 1990s, the area has been opened to the rest of the world by rapid expansion of road and rail links. Tourism has grown significantly in the 20th-century, especially in Katagalugan and Kaidailand.Largest cities:
Luang Paksan: 500,000
Nakhon Raekh: 330,000