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Continent of Dreams

Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 5:18 pm
by Questers

Re: Continent of Dreams

Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:35 pm
by Questers
To fly over the Orissan highlands, you would think all the tea in the world is grown there. It probably is, but nobody in the Orissaland drinks it. They drink coke out of glass bottles with tiny little straws. Then they get three cents back for recycling it. The poor come round to you on your beach chair and ask if you would ever so kindly give them your glass bottle. You won't want to say no.

Orissans are a breed apart. This is the only part of the Commonwealth where Whites don't eat beef. It's the only part of the Commonwealth where football is barely played, and beach volleyball is everywhere played. Go on a hike in the highlands and see the tea plantations and catch a coolie lugging a bag of tea from one hill to the next, muscles twitching and glistened in sweat, and ask him what he's thinking about. Sahib, he'll say, on Friday eve I'll take a bus to the coast and lounge on the beach until morning Monday. The coolies stay in the hills all week and there they've brought up sand to play beach volleyball at the top of a hill. Play with them. Learn their stories. Drink the leaves they haul.

Orissans are great outdoorsmen. Hunters and hikers, truck and quadbike drivers, sailors and sportsmen. They build their own houses. Every year a parade runs the length of the Orissan axackal coast, bikers taking their motorcycles on long journeys, stopping at each town for fanfare and for cokes in glass bottles. Watch them, join them. Wave at the side of the road if your bike breaks and let these veterans stop and help you and lose a race in doing so. It will be hard to make them take your thanks, but do it anyway. If Karma is true anywhere, it's true here.

Of course, not all Orissans live in the countryside.

The towns in Orissaland are flat affairs, no highrises, no minarets. Dusty, friendly, hot - wear sandals. Each city, town, or village is centred around a cenotapth, often the tallest building, granite imported from the home islands, decked in flowers. There are buried the suffering memories. The Great War inflicted powerful, gouging wounds on Orissan society. Whole battalions of Orissans walked into the smoke and did not walk out. Fully one tenth of Orissa's men did not come back from the war. The qualities that make Orissans great outdoorsmen made them willing soldiers. They heard the call, and they went: plantation managers, tea pickers, coolies, packers, and dockers all put down tools, picked up rifle, pike and sabre, and went to die in far away southern Questers or upon Yehudi plains.

The war would change the Orissaland forever. The strain of Hinduism that renounces violence grew and grew until it burst and carried every person in this land with it. Now, Orissans are a peaceful people. They live to live. Tourists come from all the world to this place: to dive in Weston Sound, to laze under palm trees, to drink too much coconut liquor and to cure the hangovers with mountains of Orissan pancakes, they come for Orissa's many music festivals and for the Party Heard Round The World, for fun, for love, for life. True Orissans are the least warlike people in this great Commonwealth. Don't test their hospitality: others, less kind, less peaceful, will punish you for it, and harshly.

Re: Continent of Dreams

Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:08 pm
by Questers
Jesselton: city of a thousand quarters, divided by the mighty Mogami river, holy place for Hindus, the greatest floodplain on the continent, largest city in the Commonwealth. There are two hundred and eleven ways to enter Jesselton, but the best is through the Main Gate. There you can stand at the top, right where General Jessel stood when he saw Amin Arjun on his war elephant, ready to hurl a mighy host toward the city he had been ordered to hold. Hold, he did, and when his relief came and crushed Arjun in a giant pincer attack, Anga was renamed Jesselton in his honour.

Today, people from every clime and country have made Jesselton their home. There's a quarter here for every minority imaginable. They form townships, surrounded by other townships, and with no space to build out, they build up. You can pass through the Kehmanik quarter to the Sharfic quarter by a hastily made wooden bridge between apartment blocks, three stories up, as the road beneath is too busy to pass. Everything in Jesselton is busy, so busy that every map is out of date the moment it's published. Entire shop lots disappear into apartments, and shift down the street and re-appear, as if time and space had contorted around them. The boundaries of ethnic law waver daily, but people have learned to live together here. They buy up space together, make their own rules, sign their own treaties with each other. It's no surprise, for Jesselton is the most densely populated city in the world - and some say it has the most pistols per hundred men.

Not all of Jesselton is dominated by ethnic enclaves. The Old Town, which people sometimetimes still call Anga, is dominated by the Jesselton town corporation, the Jesselton Company. It too owns the rail and the large roads that break this town up, and it holds regular meetings between all parties of the city, to keep the public peace. A Sharfic merchant has fallen out with a customer from the Dumani minority. They mean to duel one another, but all present fight to restrain them: since both drew their pistols but were held back by others, there was still honour in the contest. They shake hands. Jesseltonians, unlike other Questarians, are not litigious. A man might beat another on the street for a perceived slight, but shake his hand the next minute, and throw gold dollar bills at him in order to cover his expenses. Jesseltonians always say it this way: where there's no dishonour, there's no misdeed.

Remember, in this city, a handshake is your word of honour. The people here consider it as a signature to contract. They have no qualms making you an outlaw for breaking your word. Jesseltonians look out for each other and they take their hue and cry rules seriously. A Praetannic woman toured Jesselton. She complained that whenever she went out at night and was alone on the street, there was always a person watching her from a window. No wonder, a Jesseltonian friend told her, that you were never once attacked, harrassed, or interrupted. The whole city was your sentinel.

Jesseltonians are businessmen first if nothing else, but they know that nobody ever made much gold out of lawlessness. They would be right: Jesselton is a safe city, for those who follow its rules. Successive waves of migrants have won a life in this town only where they have learned to respect the way that others live. When you come here, you must hire a guide, because you will never know whether you have violated some local ordinance; an unassuming street temple patrolled by a religious sect, a petty landowner's retentive nature, or maybe just the town corporation's bailiffs, who will cane a man for spitting gum on the street. Your guide will allow you to negotiate the complex code of laws and customs that somehow, in spite of it all, work to make this city a great and mostly peaceful metropolis.

In Jesselton, you can buy, eat, and drink whatever you want. There are monuments to men of every race for every war, there are ancient Hindu temples and tombs, there are dense markets, wet and dry, with smells you can never explain. But the best thing is simply to walk from one side to the other and watch the world change around you.

Re: Continent of Dreams

Posted: Wed May 16, 2018 5:51 pm
by Questers

This year, New Ripon has once again won the title of Greatest of New Senland. The city, which has won the award six times this decade, has a total population of approximately 177,000 souls and a square area of around 23 miles, making it one of the most densely populated cities in New Senland. Its Town Corporation has never been fiscally insolvent, and rents remain average relative to income in the region. Violence is low, and New Ripon is the safest town in the northeast; this year recorded only one murders, 28 rapes, and only 1,825 assaults against the person, which the Corporation puts down to a newly introduced system to control the entry of squatters from the town's surroundings. With regards these people, New Riponers also ranked as the most generous; a new program charitably apprenticing promising young squatter children has been described as an outright success.

Relations between the tenants and their neighbours fell to an absolute low two years ago, after the abduction and violation of twin children by squatters: it was only when the burghers of New Ripon threatened to shell the forty-mile square squat settlement with heavy artillery that the perpetrators were handed over. New Ripon was given big points for its willingness to forgive the issue; prominent socialites erected a new water tower in the squat just four weeks ago, as a sign of good relations.

The city saw many exciting social events in the past year. There was a home-cooking festival and competition, with more than a hundred and eighty families taking part in a bustling Blossom Street event that ran for four days and four nights. Mrs Singh of Bridge Street won the competition with her vegetable pakoras, which the judges declared to be the finest pakoras within ten thousand miles. Other events included a popular communal gardening week and a homecoming gala for the New Ripon Yeomanry, who had spent three months patrolling the borders with Sharfland.

The expansion of New Ripon's major exxport, its vibrant software development firms, is set to offer four thousand new jobs in the next three years. Those with the right skills looking for a place to move could do no worse than New Ripon!

Re: Continent of Dreams

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:01 pm
by Questers
In my first year in the Raj Political Office I was fortunate to be posted to the Kaidailand and unfortunate enough to be posted to Lopburi, a one-lakh acre principality that straddles the Maeklong river. Her one very profitable industry is the manufacture of rubber tires, and her one ruler is the ebullient Ramapoon XII. He has no surname: Ramapoons have ruled Lopburi for centuries, and each first born son is simply called Ramapoon.

Nobody likes to work with Ramapoon XII. The only clothes he owns are basketball shorts and singlets that he rolls up to display an ever growing stomach, the aftermath of a diet made up of only pork belly and beer. Tattoos and gold rings cover his body - the prince, (officially a Chao), lives like an arriviste, but he is as blue blooded as anyone in the country. Hip hop blares from his official limousine.

But Ramapoon is not an idiot. He takes no interest in the rubber business, because he knows nothing about it. He's not a coward, either: in the Shangani war, when he was still the first born son of Ramapoon XI, he led the Lopburi Household Troops from the very front. There's at least one vapourwave album with his picture from that time as the cover. And the last, least obvious quality of Ramapoon - loyalty. He always pays his dues to the Rajah, always on time, and always more than he needs to.

During my time in Lopburi I was called upon many times to observe that Justice in this Estate was carried out in such a way that no burgher of Lopburi could make complaint to the Rajah, and so that the Rajah would never need to use His Forces to interfere in Lopburi. Lopburi, like many Estates in the hot-blooded Kaidailand, has a Royal Bailiff, who runs a Gaol. It is a stinking place next to the train station; the paint peeled away long ago, and it smells only like a gaol in Kaidailand can smell. The gaol is a charity, so its inmates live on the lowest quality rice and sometimes kangkung. It is not to hold people as punishment, but the reverse: for the safety of persons accused of some misdeed, so that they are not lynched on the streets. Once a persons name has been cleared, they are kicked out, but if they are condemned, they also have to leave.

Once I observed the Bailiff lift a man from the gaol. He had been there four weeks while he claimed a witness was coming who would clear his name, but when the witness arrived all he had to say was a string of explicities, so the man was booted out. In lieu of paying nearly ten ounces of gold, he agreed to be struck ten times with a cane by the man he had offended (and just offense, too; in a drunken stupour this chap had driven his car into his neighbours house), which had to happen in Lopburi's town square. After the Bailiff, in his khaki shorts and peak cap, brought the offender to the town square, a curious affair began, watched by hundreds of the towns citizens.

Upon seeing the cane the offender dropped to his knees, made the Kaidai wai, a symbol of hands clasped together, and begged in the most repulsive way for mercy, followed by a string of insults by the plaintiff, the factual accuracy of which the offender agreed with, and added to. The crowd expected some mercy, and some was given; in the end the plaintiff agreed to hit him only nine times. And then a form of bargaining began, in which two strokes were substituted for an ounce of silver each. The crowd made such noise in appreciation of the plaintiffs mercy that the Bailiff had to quieten them. But then the caning began, and the crowd went wild: roars and piercing shrieks at every stroke. The plaintiff walked away, his manhood intact, and safe in the knowledge that everyone knew would what would happen if they wronged him again. As the crowd began to disperse, the Bailiff looked at me and grinned, the smoke of a gigantic cheroot blurring around his sunglasses. He simply said - "Lopbuli style."

Re: Continent of Dreams

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 4:36 pm
by Questers
In 2018, the Duke of Battambang, long-loyal to the cause, was promoted to a Margrave. Actually, a Margrave is below a Duke in ordinary nobility, but to move from Duke to Margrave is a form of side-promotion, because it means more responsibility. It also means the right to place charges on ports of entry, which even Dukes are not necessarily allowed to do.

Rewind. Battambang is a small-ish estate; some seven million people, all-told. During the Shangani War, the Duke raised far more soldiers than he was required to from this tiny population, and led them to battle himself. During the Mutiny he once against mobilised Battambang's Yeomanry for the cause. These stout little people, the Battamese, gained some reputation as fierce light infantry. The Duke of Battambang is well received by the Sultan. When there were protests against the Sultan on his land in 2015, just after the war, the Duke's troops drove the protestors out with a fierce lathi charge.

In 2017, some of the Kaidai estates nearby fell into insolvency. The Sultan bought their debts, and with them their estates, but he decided to give them to the Duke of Battambang, as a reward for his loyalty. Since some of these estates lie on the Songian border, and others on the coast, the Duchy of Battambang was upgraded to a March. While the Margrave of Battambang may no longer be a Duke, and so technically is worthy of a lower grade, is responsible for arraying military forces for the protection of the Commonwealth's frontiers. And in times of war, he will automatically assume command liability over almost the entirety of the neighbouring estates.

In return, the Margrave had to raise some more troops to contribute to the common defence, so he paid for the training and formation of an armoured regiment, which he proceeded to name after his wife, a prominent local socialite; the Marquess of Battambang's Regiment of Horse.

The Regiment is finally raised on the large parade ground in Battambang itself. There's a huge party; many VIP are invited. Even local citizens of Battambang can come. Up to a thousand pigs are slaughtered for the feast, so at least there is free food. The Marquess is a famous lady, as her main job is to direct the Margrave's charities. So a lot of people have turned out to see and meet her. In the ground are arrayed slightly more than seventy main battle tanks, big and brand new Praetonian Covenanters, half a hundred smaller personnel carriers - these look like little forest animals next to the tanks, which are more like bears themselves; and nearly ten hundred men lined up. The flags are waving from lances.

The Marquess steps down, accompanied by her husband. The thousand strong Regiment bows as one; all flags are dipped at half mast. Somewhere from outside the parade ground comes a horse, it seems hours as it approaches, but its really minutes; and on top of the horse is a barrel-chested Sikh colonel, sword in hand. As he rides past the Regiment he raises the sword, held tightly to his chest, into the air, and waving around, yells; A-YOOOOOOOOOOOO! And by the Troop, the Regiment stands up and salutes. Then the colonel comes to a grinding stop next to the Marquess, the horse going from top speed to steady in half a second. Dust is thrown up, and stops an inch short of the Marquess' dress.

The Colonel throws his sword to the ground in front of the Marquess. The Marquess picks it up, and offers it back to the Colonel. Just then, there's a huge cheer from the crowd; the laying down of arms, and the offering of them again in a new service, signifies that the Regiment has been formally stood up. They will now stand guard on the southern march of the Commonwealth as the thin tan line.

Re: Continent of Dreams

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 2:51 am
by Questers
The Dukesardar rolled over. He could not tell why he had woken up, but then smelt breakfast, and guessed that was why. His wife was still asleep. He put a hand over - no, let her stay there. Gently he laid her hand on her growing belly. Number seven. A boy, they said. He grasped the head of the bed and lifted himself out, swung on a silk dressing gown and walked downstairs.

The rest of the family was awake. Ah, they were eating without him. He sat, and they greeted him, one by one, by the age; Good morning, Father!

Of course, Percy Singh did not say good morning Father, but he did say good morning. Percy Singh, Chief of the Dukesardar's Household Troops. Percy Singh, always there when you need him. Percy Singh who always woke before dawn and he always ate breakfast with the Dukesardar's family, and not with his own. It was touching, he thought, but it was of course because of business. Many things in Ambala happen before nine in the morning.

"No bacon for you, Father," his youngest, the little girl Heydia said. It was common knowledge that the Dukesardar's own father had eaten fifteen rashers of bacon and eight eggs every morning for breakfast and that was the reason he had died.

"Try to stop me," he grinned, and took five pieces. He looked at the plate. Am I really one third of my old man?

The plates were cleaned away and the children sent to their schools or tutors. One seat, for his oldest, for Sunny, was always laid out, but always empty. Away on Imperial Service in the Frontier Force. All that remained was Percy Singh. And every morning Percy Singh nodded toward the empty chair and asked: Any news? And there was rarely any. Nampata was boring now, apparently. No doubt Sunny spent most of his time in the officers bars of Nampatabad. Well, that was what he had done when he was young. Call it a tradition.

"Anything today?"

"Yes," Percy poured some more coffee and lumped in the condensed milk. "They want you to sign off on a hanging."

"Petty stuff. Why me?"

"Oh, it's this fellow. Er, what's his name. Bhajan. Man's a fighter. Should have sent him to the Yeomanry, but he won't follow orders. Beats people up for fun and doesn't care what happens. Crashed a car two months ago and had a go at the bailiffs who confronted him. Nearly killed one of them. He's only twenty one." The same age as Sunny.

"Magistrate's business," the Dukesardar said. "Not mine."

"Er, well."

"Well what?"

"It looks like Bhajan refused to go to Court and so they made him an outlaw. So he came back into Court and they told him that unless he can find someone to give him a loan, they'd make him an outlaw. Anyway, he couldn't find anyone. Big surprise, eh? There's not a single soul in this city who'd lend him a shilling, let alone twenty thousand for the car and the hospital bills. So he got called back into Court and now he won't go. They got him a place in a workhouse but the workhouse changed their mind when they read his record. Don't want him. Too violent, apparently. So he's been walking around the Canal Quarter for two days telling everyone that they're too scared to hang him."

"Are they?"

"Yes. But, also. Bhajan, twenty one, also has four children. Four!"

"If you don't have a job, you have a lot of spare time, Percy..."

"The local bailiff says he doesn't want to kill the father of four little ones. Maybe he's just saying that because he's scared. Or it's both. Good times make soft men, I guess."

"So that's going to be my Wednesday, then. I guess we know where he lives? Round up some Gurkhas and let's try to have this done by lunchtime."

"They're already waiting outside. I told the House to make them breakfast. Hope that's OK."

"Feeding Gurkhas," the Dukesardar said, standing up, "Is always a privilege."


On SEVENTH of DECEMBER, the petty hooligan BHAJAN GRANT ADJIT CHARAN of FORTY FIVE-FIVE KUMAR HOUSE, LANGLEY STREET, was hanged at BELLABY MOUND, for the Grave Accumulation of Felonious Activities that did lawfully warrant Outlawry. May his Soul be at Peace.

Re: Continent of Dreams

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:10 pm
by Questers
Right this moment

Smoke, fire, and wailing. The Captain of Yeomanry could hardly see more than thirty yards down the street. The white gas had done its work, and done it well. The wailing grew. Bodies came through the smoke towards him, khaki-clad jawans with gas masks and carbines, carrying people by the scruff of the neck. The lorries were getting fat with the catch. The Captain of Yeomanry closed his eyes, and listened.

There was the crackle of rifle fire. The yells, and the thuds. He could not smell the burning through his mask, but he could feel the heat wash over his face. He listened again and heard the sirens of the municipal fire brigade. Oh, it was chaos, lovely chaos: the kind of chaos that put order back into the world. What was taken with one hand was given back with the other.

He opened his eyes. Through the perspex haze, he could see dust, dust swirling up with the white gas. Soon it was all just dust, and then it was nothing but the remains of a street and the leftovers of a day’s work in the Nampataland, or the Far West, or wherever the hell they were now. What life had started, he had finished, with the tear bomb, the rifle butt, and the snap and crack of a Provost’s lathi. That was west Questers.

Six months ago

The little outhouse had been made with cost in mind. The cheap breezeblocks, put into a lattice shape, were getting old, and the weather had done them badly. The corrugated iron roof did nothing but make it hotter inside. A bluebottle buzzed. It was left to its own devices until it settled on a twig coming through the holes in the breezeblocks and watched through five tiny eyes.

The girl on the table was stark naked. Her eyes rolled back and little pits of spittle dripped from the side of her lips. The Priest ran a finger down her pink and pale chest until he found the place, and then poked at it. “There,” he said. “There is the spot.”

“She is drugged,” said the other man. What was he to the Priest? Few liked him. He had come months ago, with no money and no clothes on his back, begging for shelter. Now he was the Priest’s closest confidante.

“Yes. It is to kill her pain. She is ready for a new life. The girl shuddered, spasmed almost, and then settled. Her eyes shrank back further into her head, her pupils now moons. The Priest drew back her long yellow hair until it touched the dirt. “Part of her must touch the ground for it to work. She will bring life here.”


“It is the old way. The ancients did it like this. They were not wrong. We have strived to plant this land and nothing will grow. This is what the ancients would have done.”

The knife was speckled with rust. The Priest ran it down her chest, from beneath her chin, put the flat of it against her nipples and prayed more, and louder, until he ran the side of the knife down to the point, bringing blood lightly, and swirled it up and in one movement plunged it into her stomach, and began to scream. The girl spasmed again. The drugs had taken her voice. The knife had taken her life.

Two months ago

Vyner Brown took one last glance at the big pile of papers. There was a whole court case there, evidence and all, with the nice big stamp of a famous magistrate. If this wasn’t the real deal, nothing was. He flipped through it again, with one eye out the window; two men were coming with big styrofoam boxes. Lunch. Brown thought about the case, and found himself not hungry.

Missing girl. Murder. Nampatan cult. A man on the inside, from the Provosts, keeping tabs on them. His escape, more than a miracle. The parents, elderly Jacksonville retirees, and their month long appeal to the Courts. How much had they released from their savings for this? He flipped through the papers again. Maybe they would know they were coming for them. Thirty thousand Guineas a piece for the posse? Not that much money for such a job, Vyner thought. But then it was a whole year’s salary for most people. Most of it would be blown in the musky bars of the northern towns, little dens so dark you couldn’t count your money out.

Too many things to think about. As the men came in with the lunch, his computer pinged. The girl’s father. Her bank had released her life insurance. For a moment, he was still. You could buy enough three oh three to fight a war with that.

Vyner Brown of Brown & Co Hunters pinched his nose.

Go time.

One week ago

The Priest looked out at the faces. There were many of them. Now, they were roaring. He turned to his side and saw his confederates, as white in the face as a Nampatan can get. He said nothing to them. They were not like him. They were tools. Tools run the course of a life and have to be thrown out.

His eyes bulged.

This was not it. Perhaps now his mortal frame would be shattered, but his spirit was more than bone, blood, or muscle. He began to laugh, loudly, and the crowd became silent. He thought to himself: I am not a man, you fools. I am more than that. I am more than you. I am pure cosmic life, the matter of the very beings – if you could call them that – that birthed everything. I am a God. You can never kill a God, not ever!

This was Questers, and this was Nampata, and there was no black bag, and no table of weights, and when the door fell his eyes bulged more and more, his hands behind his back fighting to be free, until – until the God was dead.


His body had hung outside the town of Marjavat for six days, but on the seventh day, it was gone. Words began to fly from mouths into ears. It was as the Priest – now, his name had been forgotten – had always said. He would one day be struck down, but then he himself would return, from the air and the earth, to them, and grant them the powers of the Old Gods.

It all seemed so true, for a short time. The People had slain the local magistrate, that young fool who had chosen to stay at his post while the town’s few burghers fled, taking their things with them. Ghostly chants filled the town’s narrow streets, the brown-skinned devotees painting themselves in turmeric and dirt and taking the day and night as their own. Goats and chickens were slaughtered, each zealot trying to out-play the other to see how much blood they could run to the dirt to bring back their Priest. But he did not come.

The People knew this orgy, this deranged frenzy, could not last for long. The closer they came to cataclysm, the harder they prayed and the swifter they cut the throats of the goats. The God would come. Their God would come.

Re: Continent of Dreams

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:41 pm
by Questers
The most defining feature of any building in Questers is that it is put to use at the first possible moment, and is only finished years and years later. This was true of the Poor Yard of Temanjang. Temanjang's Poor Yard lies outside the traditional city boundary, and every week on Sunday morning hundreds, possibly low thousands, of women, of all ages, traipse through the thick morning humidity to get there. The yard is surrounded by a short breezeblock wall, still unpainted, weeds lining its foundation, and the actual grounds are simple pure tarmac. They get very hot under the sun. At the far side of the Poor Yard there are lorries, a dozen maybe.

The women line up and write their names in pencil on many a clipboard. Those who can't write their name put a thumbprint in wet turmeric. Then they sit down. A military officer stands in front of them with a loudspeaker. At one, he commands them to stand; those who do not have shoes, the most wretched of them all, have brought cardboard on which to stand, so that they do not burn themselves on the hot ground. Some of them are too old to stand, and have been carried to the Yard by their neighbours, some over many miles. They are sorted to one side and allowed to sit on mats. They get little plastic water cups, the type that you have to pierce with the sharp straw, and although the water is warm and nearly tepid, they drink it anyway.

As the women stand, the officer speaks the oath: "I swear that I will be faithful and loyal to His Majesty, Defender of the Faiths, that I will never bear false witness against him or any of his officers, that I will give willingly the lives of my Sons and Brothers for His Majesty, and that I will live peaceably according to Law."

Once the oath is done, rice is given out: enough to get a little family by. It's the lowest quality rice that you can get in Questers, but it's free, and no pauper ever turned down free food. The paupers know that if they are caught begging in Temanjang that they will not be allowed in the Poor Yard again.

The Yard has another purpose. After the women leave, the Yardmen hastily put up a town of tents. They prepare huge hoses, and a military doctor arrives just five minutes before the main event. He's late. He sits in his car with the engine on, basking in the air conditioning, chainsmoking, and reading a magazine. This is his charity work.

The men come in. They do not look tired, as they have not been begging - as long as they know what is good for them. They have been looking for work. Some of them have found it, and they have spent their little money on a feast, a feast that will always be shared. There is not much. Rice, vegetables, a little curry, but someone has brought little pieces of fried chicken, and these are shared out very liberally. The not so successful are happy for the ones who have made it. After all, they usually lose the job in a fortnight, and rejoin the ranks of the poorest again. Clothes - to what measure they're owned - are taken off and all dumped in a huge bucket, where they are left to soak in a little soap. Then the men are lined up and blasted with cold water from the hose, not even one by one, but as a big group. The doctor gives them a medical checkup, and their clothes have already dried by the time this is finished, so they lay out their cardboard - some spend their few coins on a blanket, and they are regarded as bourgeouis - and go to sleep.

Two meals a day can be bought, but it's just rice and kangkung. Once a week the men are treated to seasonal fruits, and this is regarded as the best day in the Poor Yard. They have to wash the chipped plastic plates themselves. Even with there being nothing else to do in the day, this is somehow considered below most of the paupers.

Later, those without jobs will have to work. What the work will be is not known yet. It varies. Sometimes they paste labels onto rebottled cola. Sometimes they bend used nails back into shape. Whatever work it is, it is very low paid. Once these men have acquired a thousand guineas in some form or another, they are forced to leave the camp, so that many of them spend most of their wages before the cut-off limit, and plan on living in the camp forever. This is certainly possible. Some of the men in the Temanjang Poor Yard are more than eighty years old. They smoke cheroots by the side, as the youngsters willingly do their share of the work for them. In other Poor Yards they might even gamble with the guards, but not here.

The guards usually just watch. There's rarely trouble. But once someone has checked themselves into a Poor Yard, they can't leave until they're kicked out or they've paid their way out. And if they're caught begging in the city on a Sunday, they are caned in front of the others. This hasn't happened in Temanjang in a long time. Everyone in Temanjang hopes it won't happen any time soon, either.

Re: Continent of Dreams

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 4:12 pm
by Questers

CALLING is a girls monthly magazine aimed at 14-21 year olds. An annual subscription costs ($249) and CALLING is not sold in any shops or airports, only by subscription. It is mostly centred around the Oryontic and Axackal cities or the very large inland cities such as Jesselton, Ambala, and Kuantan.

Hi there August Girls!

Last week saw the marriage of Sir Sandy Robinson-Holmes in Landing. As we could have expected, the wedding was something to witness. It had everything that a young lady could dream of. Luckily, Calling was invited to attend, so we're here to give you all the details of just what bachelors are available. As usual, all available bachelors looking for the right women are listed on the Persons Card found in this month's copy, with their details. So get letter-writing, ladies!

Our Bachelor of the Month is, by unanimous decision of all involved (Ed: More like you bribed the board with carrot cake, Char...), Captain Jahan Parker Roland Esquire, heir to the Roland family business, an officer of the Queen's Own Lancers, and the star of the wedding ball-room. Classical dancing is just one of Captain Roland's many skills, and CALLING's fashion editor even went so far to say that he was sartorially gifted - so if it's a well-dressed gentleman you're looking for, Jahan might be your number one choice. He is currently on active service in the Frontier, but there's no need to be worried. Jahan told your reporter he was fully chaste - but he did add a rogueish wink to that, so don't hesitate to snap up this good offer while you can. Jahan especially likes ladies on the taller and fuller side; dark hair and green eyes make him melt, apparently. Get out there and melt yourself a Captain of Cavalry.

August is a Serene Month to propose for a hand in marriage. It's blessed - CALLING can now report (Ed: But lips sealed ladies, this is classified information) that Her Royal and Most Serene Highness Rabihah Abdullah Afiz has sealed the knot. Who's the lucky fella? No other than Sundera Harran Singh, the first-born son of the His Excellency the Dukesardar of Ambala. Sundera (21), proposed two weeks ago to Rabibah (18). Apparently, Sundear has never even met Rabihah, but thinks she's the most beautiful princess in all Crataea, and wrote directly to the Sultan asking for her hand in marriage. Rumours and drama flew through the Royal Household as Her Majesty apparently disagreed with the coupling. It is said that The Sultan, impressed by Lieutenant Singh's boldness, flew lucky Sundera back to the palace on his own jetliner in order to present him to Her Majesty and persuade her. If it really happened, it must have worked.

The wedding is set for November. And guess what - this month's edition of CALLING has five tickets to give away in a raffle. Just write to us explaining why you think any man that you know - and you must know him personally - would be a good match for the Sultan's older and still unmarried daughter, Seniya, and the best five entries will get to attend the most famous wedding of the year...