Monday, April 11, 2011

We Tryin' To Feed Your Kids!

The Ganges. Hindus believe that life is incomplete until you've bathed in this holy river. In a typical Hindu household you might find a vial of water from the Ganges sitting on a shelf waiting to be administered to someone on their deathbed. It is said that the holy water will cleanse a soul of all it's past sins and, in some cases, even cure the sick. Now, I don't know about all that. When I think of drinking or bathing in a brown soupy river of fecal matter and Hindu sweat, I think of cholera, dyssentary, hepatitis B and perhaps giving my unborn children gills and webbed feet, but that's just me. What's holy to some can be a lifelong relationship with antibiotics to others. Each year millions of people make a pilgrimage to the Ganges and this week, so did our brave little traveling soldiers. Let's recap, shall we?

We continue our worldwide trek where we last left off - Kolkata, India. As Gary and Mallory were the first to arrive, they are now the first to depart. But first! Snapple. Mmm Snapple. Snapple, now a living breathing entity, treats Team Christ to the "best stuff in India". Since I'm pretty sure the best stuff in India is Cannabis and heroin, party on Team Christ! In a dark room filled with colorful pillows and lots of beaded everything, Gary sat on the floor giggling and sucking on a hookah while Mallory burbled in a corner talking to a statue of Ganesh while wayward Bangalese children drew on her face with a Sharpie. Exotic women with eyes outlined in kohl and gold bracelets jingling up and down their arms shimmied around the father/daughter duo as Snapple stood in the doorway and looked very pleased with himself. I don't know about you, but I'm getting a case of Snapple for my next party. You're all invited!

So, after Snapple had his way with Gary and Mallory, it was time to race again. Teams are instructed to fly to the city of Varanasi, the religious heart of India, where they'll find their next clue at a Tonga stand. Mallory hears the word "religious", pulls her pom-poms out of her backpack and starts to do a cheer. "G-O-D, G-O-D, I love Him and He loves me, Goooo God!!!" and off they scamper to the airport. Mallory wants her and her dad to be the first parent/child team to win the race. I, on the other hand, want her to get a nasty case of laryngitis, but we can't all get what we want, can we? The next team to depart is Team Cowpat (Jet & Cord) and even though they feel like the legs are getting tougher, they're sure they've got a good grasp on minimizing mistakes. Team Takei (Ron & Christina) leaves third followed by Team Ass Burgers (Zev & Justin) in fourth. Much to Zev's chagrin, Justin thinks "Varanasi" sounds like they're staying in India for a little longer. Normally, I'd be all sympathetic to Zev and worrying about his anxiety over large crowds, but my attention was focused elsewhere. That lovely hairy Justin creature was wearing a plunging V-neck t-shirt and I had to cover my mouth to stifle the giggles. Tiny little tufts of man hair peeked out and I just laughed and laughed. It's nice to see Justin taking some fashion risks. I'm just not sure the Burt Reynolds route is the way to go.

Team Banshee (Donner & Vyxsin) leaves next and all they can think about is their last performance in India. It didn't end well for the pink and black team as they were sent home early, their faces smeared with mascara and eyeliner and their combat boots shuffling solemnly back to America. Team Pee Pee (Kisha & Jen) and Team Globetrotter (Flight Time & Big Easy) bring up the rear and all the teams are now at the airport. Gary and Mallory nab a flight landing in Varanasi at 10:45 the next morning with the majority of the other teams following suit. The only team not on that flight is Team Cowpat. A gentleman at the ticket counter tells them the earliest flight lands at 11:45 and since the good ole country boys were raised to believe everything people tell them, they book the flight and are none the wiser. I wonder if Cord believes those emails he gets from Nigerian princes promising him $15 million if he transfers a sizable sum of money to an offshore bank account. Jet probably thinks that Birkin bag he got off of eBay is real too. If Hermes is spelled "Herpes", chances are something is amiss.

So while everyone was at the airport securing a place in line toward the front, Ron and Christina were out in the streets of India preparing to sample the culinary fare. You see, Ron travels much better when he has a full tummy. He's happier, he's less grouchy, he's not as likely to throw rocks at passing buses. It's just better for everyone involved if he gets a good meal in him. Christina is beyond arguing with Ron's need to satiate his palette with the flavors of the world. Soon she'll be married and, according to Ron, that means she'll disappear off the face of the earth forever and they'll never get to hang out anymore. So, until the mothership comes to claim Christina as it's new queen, Ron would like to savor every moment he has left with her. What better way to do that than over some chicken tikka masala? With the coriander dancing on his tongue and those subtle coconut notes satisfying even the most discerning of foodies, Ron and Christina share a lovely meal and discuss how Christina's future children might be born with lizard tongues and scales on their skin.

Whoosh! Splat! Kerplunk! All teams, save the cowboys, arrive in Varanasi and the race is on to find a cab. Back in Kolkatta it's finally dawning on Team Cowpat that none of the other racers are around. I couldn't help but wonder where Team Cowpat has been hanging out all that time until the flight left. Team Takei had time to eat. Justin had time to brush his glorious chest hair. Surely, the cowboys must have seen a team or two at the airport. I've said it before and I'll say it again, their constant need to separate themselves from the pack very rarely gives them a substantial lead. More often than not, they end up out of the loop and missing crucial pieces of information or modes of transportation. I understand wanting to be an individual, but when hours go by and you haven't seen nary a fellow racer, you have to scratch your head and wonder where the hell everyone is, right? It happened to them back in Seashells (Seychelles) and it's happening to them again here in India. That plan to avoid making mistakes sure is paying off. Not.

In Varanasi everyone jumps into their cabs and heads to the Tonga stand to find their next clue. Donner, clutching a scarf and a bag of eyeliner, hits his head on the back of the taxi and promptly reprimands the innocent cab driver for not warning him that when you shake your silky black locks to the imaginary Bauhaus song in your head you might inadvertantly bang your cranium onto a piece of metal. He grumbles his way into the cab and shrieks angrily at the cab driver to "Gooooo!!!" Calm down there Jaime. It's not your driver's fault you're a spastic dancer. Over in Team Ass Burgers' cab a similar unpleasant scene is unfolding. It turns out their cab driver has to stop for some gas and I began to wonder in that instant if perhaps the Satanic souls of the recently departed (Team Viper) weren't in fact haunting the race. It would make sense you know. Those spindly drooling creatures circling above the cabs of the teams they didn't like splattering the innocents below with acidic curses. Those redheads were pissed off at Team Banshee for not getting a longer penalty in China and they were definitely pissed off at Justin for not helping them out back in Sydney. I grabbed my crucifix, shouted "The power of Christ compels you!" a few times at the screen and hoped for the best.

After a harrowing ordeal speeding by elephants and cows in downtown Varanasi, Team Banshee arrives at the clue box first to discover a Road Block: Who's ready to search for the meaning of life? As I normally find the meaning of life at the bottom of a gin bottle or in a poignant episode of the Real Housewives, I was very excited about this challenge and thought I might learn something along the way. It turns out I didn't learn a damn thing and instead ended up playing a game of match the bearded dude to a colorful deck of playing cards. Using only picture cards, teams have to search for six Sadhus (holy men) who will each hand them a clue. When they properly arrange all six clues, the meaning of life will be revealed. When they find the last Sadhu and reveal the meaning of life, they'll be given their next clue. Donner gets to work searching for his Sadhus with Big Easy, Jen, Gary and Ron not far behind him. Team Ass Burgers finally arrive where in the Indian heat, Justin's V-neck is now down to his ankles.

Donner begins to approach random bearded men and asking them for paper. It turns out that Varanasi is a playground for the hairy and not all of them are holy. I'm pretty sure Donner even asked Justin for a clue at one point. "Hey, do you have some paper for me?", Donner asks. "It's me - Justin!" "Ooops sorry." That's the conversation I imagined in my head. Awesome.

Big Easy and Jen decide to work the Road Block together and they're making matches like nobody's business. Gary and Donner also decide to work together, but it's more like Gary doing all the work and Donner chasing after him making random gallant bows to people he deems worthy. With a grandiose sweep of his arms and a jostle of his sword, Donner descends into curtsies, "Thank you kind sir", "This is most pleasing my fair maiden.", "Do you happen to have any eyeliner I can borrow my lord?" Justin gets one whiff of Donner's big ole bag of b.s. and takes off in another direction searching for more anorexic Santa Clauses. And while all of this is going on Team Cowpat has finally landed and is now headed to the Road Block. "Weer gonna hafta get ta these deeters ta ketchup.", Jet or Cord (they're interchangable) says.

Back with the other waiting partners, Zev is losing his shit over all the street noises. People everywhere, horns honking, cows mooing... it's mayhem to poor Zev. Mallory gives him some ear plugs and therein lies the difference in The Amazing Race from all other reality shows. People on this show are just too nice. Look, I love Zev as much as the next person does, but if he was my competitor for a million dollars I would want him at his breaking point as much as possible. Can you imagine Boston Rob or Russell Hantz giving Zev a set of ear plugs? Hell no! They'd probably buy drum sets and kazoos and dance around Zev in a circle of flames and a cacophony of torture. I'd like to see more strategy come into play in The Amazing Race - more lies, more deception, more cab stealing and misdirections. I get the impression that all of the TAR teams are *gasp* friends and the last thing I want to watch are a bunch of friends hanging out having a good time. Gimme evil, people. Give me something to work with.

So while Mallory and Zev are playing Ring Around The Rosies, Jen is turning in the phrase that pays to the final Sadhu, "Once you're over the hill you pick up speed." Huh? That's the meaning of life? The Little Engine That Could? Come on! Shouldn't the meaning of life give me an Oprah aha moment? Shouldn't I learn that goodness is the key to happiness or that inner peace is the way to know God or some shit like that? What the hell am I supposed to do with what pretty much boils down to a law of physics? A body in motion tends to stay in motion. I don't know. I think that frozen lean cuisine I just ate gave me more self satisfaction than "Once you're over the hill you pick up speed." Maybe it's an anagram... "You seduce the lovelier encore pikpp." I think in Sanskrit 'pikpp' means 'homey'. You seduce the lovelier encore homey. See? Doesn't that sound better than the other crap about going over a hill? Sure it does. Trust me.

Teams must now make their way to the Swaminath Akhara - a wrestling and strength conditioning club - to find their next clue. Team Pee Pee followed by Team Globetrotter and Team Ass Burgers head to the next clue where hopefully someone will be flung violently and smashed with a chair. Back at the search for the holy men, Team Cowpat arrives and everyone left begins to freak out. Meanwhile, Ron decides that this is as good a time as any to take a stroll through the hustling and bustling streets of India and immerse himself in the culture. He poses for pictures with the locals, gets some falafel on a stick, plays some Ski-ball at the arcade and then heads down to the waterfront because most likely the holy men got hot and wanted to take a dip in the festering bubbling Ganges.

At this point Team Ass Burgers and Team Globetrotters have arrived at the stairs to the next clue and Justin isn't playing around. He's screaming at Zev to move his ass and run, but Zev strolls like he doesn't have a care in the world. I think he forgot to take those ear plugs out and now he can't hear any of the orders Justin is barking at him. Maybe Mallory was playing devil games after all! When they finally do reach the clue box, it's a Detour: Feed The Fire or Feed The Buffalo. In Feed The Fire, teams have to travel up the Ganges and head to the home of a milkman. Once there, they must make 50 traditional fuel patties out of buffalo manure and then slap them onto a wall to try in the sun. Finally, they'll have to load a stove with fuel patties and light a fire to boil milk for the local children. In Feed The Buffalo, teams have to cross the Ganges and pick up a large load of hay. Then, they must cross the Ganges again and carry their hay through the narrow streets and deliver it to the address attached to their bundles. Team Ass Burgers and Team Globetrotter choose Feed The Buffalo while Team Pee Pee chooses Feed The Fire because they think the bales of hay might be heavy. With no problems at all, the AssTrotters pick up their hay and cross back over the Ganges.

Back at the Road Block, Team Cowpat has just finished while Ron is trying to rent a pedal boat down at the marina. He figures as long as he's in town, he might as well see the city from the water. Plus, a little pedaling would be magnificent calisthenically. And then afterwards he could get a funnel cake or something. The sweetness of the powdered sugar coupled with the flaky deliciousness of the cake is a delight for the senses and if there's one person who hates to pass up a delight, it's Ron.

Back on the shores of the Ganges, the AssTrotters are unloading their hay and weaving through the narrow streets the city. Random cows try to eat the hay out of their hands and one even mistakes Justin's chest hair for a delectable treat. While Justin is busy swatting at the cow vying for his affections, Team Pee Pee is digging their hands into a pile of poo. Much to the delight of the gaggle of children observing, the girls begin to gag and wretch from the pungent aroma filling their nostrils. Why they chose to play with poo I'll never know. They weren't the only ones though. Team Banshee and Team Christ chose Feed The Fire as well and were now on their way to make some stink patties. Mallory crinkles her nose while passing a cremation ceremony taking place while Ron is just now delivering the meaning of life to the final Sadhu.

Back at the Poo Palace, Jen is getting angry that Kisha is dismantling her poo patties. Kisha thinks they're too big while Jen thinks they're just right. It was a sisterly squabble that I hoped ended in one of them flinging poo at the other (then I could change their name to Team Poo Poo!), but no such luck. Instead, Jen pouted while Kisha pulled the poo cookbook out of her pocket and showed Jen the proper way to make a poo burger. Now, I know Kisha is an athletic gal, but I had no idea she knew her way around a poo kitchen. So talented!

At this point the AssTrotters have delivered their hay and now it's a race to the Pit Stop. Justin drags Zev by his t-shirt and shoves him in a cab while the Globetrotters skip merrily along chanting, "Last to first baby! Last to first!". Back out on the Ganges, Team Cowpat is attempting to collect their hay while back at the Poo Palace the girls' poo patties are getting rejected by the very discerning and particular Poo Matron. The tiny little squirt of woman starts knocking patties off the wall and I'm not sure who, but one of the girls says, "Are you serious lady? We tryin' to feed your kids!" I clapped in that moment as knew I had my title. Thanks Team Pee Poo. I mean, Team Pee Pee. Eventually, they please the tiny dollop-y woman looking on and she gives them the thumbs up. The fire is lit, the milk is boiling and those bitches are outta there. Team Banshee and Team Christ arrive at the Poo Palace next where Mallory is more concerned about her outfit than she is about pleasing the little plop of a Poo Matron watching them out of the corner of her eye.

Over at the Pit Stop, Team Globetrotter arrives in first place - last to first! - where they win a trip to Hawaii. Zev & Justin slide into the number two spot and we finally get a "Yeah baby!" (drink). Zev tells us that a few years ago he wouldn't have been able to have completed this leg in India. He's accomplished a lot lately and I'd like to see him accomplish more. If you'd like to help Zev meet his goals, please click HERE and help him out on his upcoming Walk for Autism Speaks. You can even walk with the boys on April 23rd if you want so check out his site and do your thang. Wear a plunging V-neck if you go. Justin will appreciate it.

Back out on the race course, Team Cowpat is doing what cowboys do - they're lugging hay and making up for lost time. Meanwhile, Vyxsin, knee deep in poop, muses about how she was actually worried about not using deoderant that day. I did a Jen/Kisha wretch and wondered what the hell type of planet Vyxsin lives on. She's in India. It's hot. She's racing and bitch doesn't put deoderant on?!? Come on! There are a lot of offensive smells in the world, but I think body odor wins by a mile. It's a total deal breaker. If you stink, I can't be near you. I just can't. I don't want to date you. I don't want to be in a car with you. I don't want people thinking your funk is coming from me. So, use deoderant please and help me make the world a better place. Thank you.

Eventually, Teams Banshee and Christ finish the poo challenge and head to the Pit Stop. Team Banshee thinks it would be faster to travel by boat so they hire a boat from some random guys who whisper suspiciously under each other. I knew in that moment that the bottom of that little dinghy was probably filled with opium and passengers were the last thing these guys expected. Vyxsin also begins to suspect that something isn't quite right with these boat people so she leaps into the Ganges and emerges with a third eyeball, wings instead of arms and hooves for feet. Donner explodes into a rage because now his lovely pink girlfriend is no more. Now she speaks like a dolphin in pain and waddles like a duck. That's what happens when you're a foreigner and you dunk your head into a body of water that's host to everything from radioactive fluids to dead bodies. *shrugs shoulders*

It's sad that Vyxsin will never be the same, but on the upside Team Pee Pee arrives at the Pit Stop in third place! Gary and Mallory finish fourth followed by Team Cowpat and Team Banshee. Sadly, we must say goodbye to Team Takei. Ron's stroll along the waterfront licking lollipops and eating soft serve ice cream took way too long and now they're out of the race. I know Ron is a pain in the ass, but I'll actually miss the little guy. His appreciation for the finer things in life, his ability to string about 15 four syllable words together in a sentence and his neverending search for the perfect streetside meal will be but faint distant memories. When the aliens land to abduct Christina as their lizard queen, Ron will be all alone and I'll think of him fondly sitting in his La-Z-Boy watching old episodes of Ni Hao Kai-lan on a constant loop and sucking on some spare ribs. Fare thee well, Ronald Hsu. Never change.

So, what did you guys think of last night's episode? Will you miss Ron as much as I will? Do you think Mallory secretly has devil intentions towards Zev? What will Justin wear next week? Will Vyxsin ever be able to walk in a straight line again? Comment it out bitches and have a great day! If you like Survivor, please check out my Bitchy Survivor Blog.