Dolphins

March 29th, 2009

Today I return to London from Langkawi, Malaysia, a beautiful island where nature and luxury vie to be foremost in my experience. One of my nouveau riche glitches is a hankering after fine hotels and senseless indulgences. I’m proud to say that after a relatively short period of wealth I now recognise the insufficiency of personal privilege in a world with so much poverty –“Does that mean you’re going to give away all your money then?”- I imagine someone who dislikes me yet who has mysteriously found their way onto my website saying, and the answer is “Yes.”

I don’t know when and feel under no great obligation to elaborate, I suppose when I’m ready. The mind is in many ways a problem-solving machine, the problems my mind focussed on primarily were – 1. Make people laugh for a job and 2. Stop being poor. I have done considerable work in these areas and have found only more problems. I suppose the environment for which the mind evolved dealt with problems like “Get food” and “Don’t die” and only moved onto “paint on this cave wall” when enough sabre-toothed tigers had been butchered to demonstrate they weren’t a real threat. Having sabre teeth and then going extinct must be a real embarrassment to their species and a real pat on the back for the conventional tiger, who with relatively small teeth that could never be described as sabre-like or converted into phosphorescent weapons for Jedi to duel with, have continued to live on for millennia, leaving their goofy cousins to peer at us sheepishly from natural history books. “Sorry about these bloody sabres” they seem to be saying – “they seemed like a good idea at the time”.

Those days were apparently strewn with mammals that were slightly different to our high-tech modern variety with only one or two daft distinctions that appear only to have hastened their demise. The Woolly Mammoth was just a big, hairy elephant and I’ve yet to see one that wasn’t ensnared by tiny cavemen and dragged down like a fat, hirsute Gulliver to a Snuffleupagus death.

The animals of Langkawi take evolution seriously. The monkeys I’ve mentioned before seem to be prematurely planning some “Planet of the Apes” style post apocalyptic dystopia even as I dish out free mango. You can see them earning in action the pre-fix “cheeky” with their every move in the accompanying photos. What is less obvious is the suspicious, snidey look they unfailingly issue every time they ungratefully snatch treats from my twitching hand. “I’ll have that, you bald, gangly loon” they appear to imply as they stare right into my human eyes. The apes elicit excitement. Through their high-octane “King of the Swingers” be-bop rooftop jitterbug they are creatures of the now, materialistic, randy, bickering treetop twerps that would shiv you in the shower for half a sixpence if Harry Grout deemed it a jolly.

Contrast this with the silvery maritime swirls of consciousness that I encountered yesterday while pootering about on a boat.

Me and Nik went off with beloved Praba and a couple of mercenaries with the intention of snorkeling. It was not to be as the sea was all a grog with disturbed aqua muck, stirred up by a mischievous storm. For a while we traversed the twinkling cellophane hoping for a perfect beach, but to no avail. The one we chanced upon was inhabited already by a burly fella and his family and, less discernible but equally present, his theological belief that we couldn’t see his missus in a bikini; ne’er more did I crave a glimpse at some fabric than as we politely left that shore. I don’t know what manner of faith it was that prohibited me from seeing that man’s wife but I do know that boundaries engorge my will. I wonder if she loved him or felt Alcatrazed there and secretly yearned for the sea to bring forth a hero to liberate her from the asphyxiating affection of her husband and his puritanical sky-boss.

Paradise is now scarred and one wonders how many “Earth hours” it’ll take to ease the blemishes that assault the purity of this region. Impeccable bays, each a testimony to an obvious God, who cares not for nudey wives and dogma but instead renders the divine in every atom, cascading odes to the sublime form the perimeter of these islands that gurgle and sprout green, voluptuous life. Every beach we saw however was dotted with litter, bottles, bags; unwanted mementos of a world I want to forget; brands and packaging is redundant when you have actual beauty, not a hijacked, consumer version. The marred isles looked like Robinson Crusoe had been hit with a surprise visit from Mikey Carroll. Man Friday all wonky and forlorn and reeking of skunk wearing a “Damn Seagulls!” baseball cap and an expression of bafflement.

As we made our way back to the opulent penitentiary, glumly silent but for the raging outboard racket, a dolphin was sighted. At first it is exciting like when you see a cheeky monkey “look a dolphin!” someone’ll say. Then ensues an age of uncertainty where every breach in the surface is pointlessly leapt upon “there’s one!” it is not one. It is a packet of Discos. “What about that?” it is some polystyrene. Then as you begin to question whether or not the initial sighting was just attention seeking, out from the deep, a lithe and glistening exclamation mark of pure mammalian life punctuates the void with the resolute music that silently scores all wonder. “That was a fucking dolphin!” “Yeah, I saw that one!” we give chase and draw near and soon the distant dance becomes an omnipresent carnival. We slice in our vessel through the ocean’s emissaries, they lead us and flank us, they follow and mirror. All about us these shimmering angels of the sea communicate through motion. The excitement is replaced by awe. We can hear them ripple and breathe, scorching grey, liquid flames they are, born and reborn with each emergence. I’d always questioned whether or not dolphins were actually any good or just one of those things that everyone assumes are great without really questioning it; like the Dalai Llama or blowjobs, but they are; burgeoning marble ghosts that embody grace. Among them we all became silent and transfixed, somewhere between a funeral and a firework display. These are the moments where one feels proximity to truth, where the supernatural becomes tangible and the pleasure pledged by five star luxury becomes accessible to all.