Saturday, December 23, 2006

We like – We like to party!

Looking back, it’s been a pretty exciting year – and Mrs Donkey and I have visited some of the most amazing party spots in history.

It all started in the menacing island of Malaita, home to the fiercest of Solomon Island headhunters, an activity which would have involved a long row across the Indispensable Straight in war canoes to rape and pillage foreign shores, and which usually culminated in week-long feasts and celebrations, complete with human brain soup and concubine selection and sampling. Fortunately, our Christian forefathers put a stop to all those shenanigans, and our final party in that marvelous place was more tinged with sadness at having to say farewell to our wonderful friends and neighbours, rather than anything which featured all-night parties, music, sex and madness induced from the consumption of human flesh.

Our next stop, of course, was Delhi. Here the Mughals, the former Persian rulers of what is now Northern India, erected huge, marble-arched pavilions under which they reclined on massive, ornate, jewel-encrusted thrones while slaves fanned them with branches, and a multitude of nubile young women from the royal harem danced before you and your court by day, and above you by night. Here you would sample amazing dishes with influences from Baghdad to Yangon, and experience the peace induced by the bubbling of piped water fountains in the corners of each room. One would enjoy the scent of jasmine burning in the ornate sconces which would both drowse by day, and arouse by night, highlighting the contrast between the tranquility of daily life with the lechery and debauchery of the all-night parties.

On the other side of the country, in the jungle state of Orissa, Donkey experienced debauchery on a whole new lever – OK, better be careful here … not “experienced”, exactly … perhaps “saw evidence of” might be a more accurate, and definitely safer expression. Here I visited the ancient Sun Temple in Konark, and saw, carved into the massive stone walls of that incredible, imposing structure, in three dimensional, sculpted, graphic detail, the kinds of things that went on between the priests and devotees of that amazing religious cult; things which sadly do not continue today, thanks to those meddling Christian missionaries! Ah yes, the good people of Konark – now they really knew how to party!

The next stop was Singapore, where no one’s allowed to even smile in public, let alone have fun, for fear of incarceration without trial, followed by a hastily-assembled firing squad at dawn before your own embassy even gets a sniff of anything untoward going down. Not really a party town at all.

It was then back to good ol’ Aussie, where a wedding party is celebrated as it should be - amongst wonderful friends on a sandy beach, followed by twelve hours of drinking beneath a piece of canvas as a winter storm rages above you – the warmth of a fire and the love of good friends ingredients enough to bake an exciting, sustained celebration which lasts for days.

In Kathmandu, traditional parties are held in large, heavy-beamed, low-ceilinged banquet halls where course-after-course of spicy dishes are served amidst traditional dancing and endless consumption of blow-yer-head-off raksi; the traditional, very alcoholic, vodka-like Nepali spirit which is served from long-spouted brass pots and which must by thrown back in one gulp before your cup is immediately refilled. What happens at these celebrations after an hour or two I’m not quite able to tell you – it all gets a bit hazy, I’m afraid. But I can confirm that there is lots of shouting and smiling and laughter, so I’d assume it’s a pretty good party!

In Izmir, the Byzantine port city in modern-day Turkey, a nightly celebration takes place with Efes Beer and raki (another potent liquid which was recently declined by NASA as an alternative fuel when it was found to result in seven out of every eight space craft over-shooting the intended destination!). In Izmir, if you can manage to peer through the smoke of three-hundred chain-smoking young Turkish men and women, you might just make out all-night group dancing, frantic drinking and drunken revelers sucking back on the intoxicating, spiced mixtures within their ornate, person-sized nagile (hookah pipes), which stand to attention beside each table. When it comes to partying, young Turks have definietly got it goin' on.

Not far from Izmir is the ancient Greek, and later Roman city of Ephesus where, at least until St Paul came along with all his crazy ideas about treating each other with love and respect and denying oneself the material pleasures of this world, a new form of decadence had been born and refined, in which the rich and powerful enjoyed the finest of arts and culture, beneath beautifully-crafted columns and arches, drinking gallons of fine wine, bathing and playing sport together and sampling superb fare, all on the backs of armies and armies of slaves from across the empire … and I really don’t think I need to go into too much detail about the famous orgies of Roman times to highlight that having a great time was the single most important goal of any young Roman nobleman or woman.

And finally, to top-off a year-long tour of the great party destinations of the world, yesterday I toured the Prince Regent (later King George IV)’s Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England. This pleasure-dome is the embodiment of decadence, built as it was during a time when most of it's owner's subjects were languishing in the depths of extreme poverty. The Pavilion looks like a palace from a tale of the Arabian Knights, with its Persian minarets and onion domes outside, whilst inside, it is fitted with sparkling, jewel-encrusted chandeliers, incredible sculptures, rich, thick, soft carpets, guilt, domed ceilings and it is painted throughout in a style reminiscent of a pre-colonial Chinese palace, accentuating all the extravagance and more which is characteristic of history's most severe oriental dictators. The whole palace was designed and built to indulge the Prince Regent’s addiction to excess, and to house the nightly carousels; banquets, cigars, dancing and live music, and all within easy access to the royal suite for when things got a bit too hot for the public eye … a great temple to a life of hedonistic abandon – and a tremendous contrast to the squalor which existed not twenty metres away, in the muddy street outside. Yes, in Regency England, when it came to celebrations and parties, it was good to be the King!

And that’s really it for this well-traveled year. In a couple of days time, the Donkeys will enjoy a much less extravagant, but hopefully no-less enjoyable Christmas celebration in the cozy living room of Mrs Donkey’s sister in South London. There will be wine, great food, presents, music … piped, hot water … maybe some incense and many of the good things passed down to us from some of the great revelers of history. No harem, I suspect, this year … but it’s always good to have something to work towards for next Christmas.


This could have been anywhere in India, but just happens to be a manufactured pleasure dome in the UK. Sally at the Royal Pavillion in Brighton. Pic: Hagas

1 comment:

sabrina said...

I am sooo soooo jealous!!!! What a life you've lived and you're not even half way through!!!!!
The furthest i've been from Malaysia is Thailand.....have been to Singapore as well but i prefer to delete that trip from my mind. Bunch of retards!!!

Anyway hope u guys had a fantastic xmas and here's to an alcohol-filled New Year!