Ochterlony Monument in Calcutta, India
I'm honored to have for the very first time a guest blog by none other than the amazingly funny, intellectual and ribald Richard Crasta!
It was kismet when I met Richard online last year, a kinship formed from comedy and erotica. Richard's well-written, funny as hell prose with a taste of India sets him apart from all others. It's exotic, erotic and hysterical.
Best known as the Salmon Rushdie of Indian Catholicism, Richard's claim to fame stems from his saucy international best-sellers including:
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I implore you, go out and buy his books! He's a must-read!
With this ringing endorsement, let me scintillate your taste buds with this excerpt from The Revised Kama Sutra about a young Indian boy introduced to his first erection:
Like Byron waking up one morning to discover he was famous, I woke up on that sunny morning of my fourteenth year to discover that my most unassuming member had tripled in length and was pointing unaccountably heavenward. I tried disbelief; I tried patience; I tried beating it into submission. When all failed, I rushed to the bathroom wrapped in an evidence-hushing bedsheet and proceeded to examine every aspect of what I regarded as a medical problem of historic significance. And then, failing to persuade it to retreat like a nice fellow, I had dashed back to my bed and snuck under my bed sheet, and wild elephants couldn’t drag me out of there.
I hate to sound as if I have a chip on my shoulder about a bulge in my pants, yet what a pain in the vicinity of the nuts it became for the next five years! I’d have given anything, in those years, to read a treatise on Erection Management: how to negotiate undesirable hardons in public or how to tell your father: “I can’t get up right now, Daddy, because I have a hard-on the size of the Ochterlony Monument and I wouldn’t like to upset any furniture.” I’d have given anything, too, to know that, in the right circles, a hard—especially a stubbornly hard—penis was no liability, but quite the contrary. Given my inhibited upbringing, given that I didn’t understand the biological purpose of this unannounced, awkward swelling, an erection seemed to me one of the less successful aspects of God’s creations, besides also being inconvenient and terrifying.
Consider: an erect penis is almost always incongruous. It does not belong. It is a homeless, stateless, parentless, pointless, extraterrestrial creature. Michelangelo’s David is a work of art; but give Little David an erection, and Florence would become the laughing stock of the world. An erection arrives like a bolt from the blue; and arriving uninvited, it stays as long as it jolly well pleases, or until well pleased.
In a more natural society, this first erection would be Nature’s way for a fellow’s tool to announce its emergence from seclusion and its readiness to claim its natural inheritance. There might even be a coming out party, with the post-pubescent girls of the neighbourhood invited to join in a hands-on celebration ending with the singing of phallic songs over a campfire, a communal prayer to the appropriate phallic God, and a “Happy Birthday Dear Dickie!” Instead, it was my living in Mangalore, India, that made this erection, and the sexuality that came with it, catastrophic. What a mess our country has made of its sexual frontier, riddled as it is with thirty-year-old males who are sexual bacchas compared to Western fifteen-year-olds. The Indian energy crisis: how much of it is misspent, misdirected, unspent and therefore imploded sexuality?
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A year after my first hard on, there came to universal astonishment a hyped-up sex education lecture delivered to a hushed religion classroom by Father Bernard the headmaster himself. For a whole hour, Father Bernard beat pseudo-biologically around assorted metaphysical bushes, while intoning rhapsodies about God’s spiffy devices for human continuity, the beauty of His purpose, and—ooh—the purposefulness of his beauty . . . And what about hardons and bollock-naked, sweaty sex? Not one item of cold information, not a single naked-as-a-jaybird fact.
As a result, I, a semi-urban, moderately literate Indian, took one of the most roundabout paths to the discovery of sexual knowledge ever recorded in human history. What a one-hour reading of a straightforward, illustrated, no-holds-barred, keep your airbrushes in your bloody pocket and spread ‘em sex manual might have told me, it took me an average of two days a week for seven years (or the combined lifetimes of two worker bees) to discover. Seven frigging years in which I could have probably discovered the Theory of Relativity—or at least understood it! And by the time I did discover it, the apple of knowledge had acquired such cosmic value and significance that it didn’t seem worthwhile to stop learning about sex; I had become an unpaid, professional sexual sleuth, probing the full frontal frontiers of carnal knowledge on behalf of humankind.
But before I reveal that extraordinary route, I have another gripe to unload. It is about social hypocrisy, and what a terrible—though occasionally joyful—burden it is to be a man. And how it is almost easier to do all the things society expects you to do than it is not to do all the things society expects you not to do . . . because most of the “nots” seem to fly in the face of a certain male condition whose existence we would prefer to deny.
The name of this condition? To the catalogue of terms such as childhood, puberty, adolescence, adulthood, and menopause, I bequeath a neologism indispensable to understand men: penishood. (Step aside, Freud, though I know you’re now racked by penishood envy). Penishood is that post-pubsecent period of a man’s life when he begins to be ruled by his penis and its activities, its needs, its perceptions of life, its fantasies, even its moods (such as dejection, elation, stubbornness, hardheadedness, prickliness). In many men penishood is ended by marriage, ambition, sexual disenchantment, fatigue, transfer of interest to a new pursuit, the mellowing hand of Time, or the aging hand of the individual concerned; in certain asexual, repressed, or hermaphroditic types, it never begins; and in a few, it never ends.
To the groan of a bloated English language complaining of word punishment, I respond: By their uses shall ye judge them! Because words, like penises, are justified solely by their use. (To digress: If I were God, I’d retract the penises of all celibates and transfer them to the involuntarily impotent: penises would be “that one talent it is death to hide.”) Of course, I use “use” in the broadest sense to include play. For words—like penises—are meant to play and have fun with, not to be feared, quarantined, banned, tabooed, kept at arm’s length, driven underground. Tool, bishop, pego, truncheon, ladies’ delight, John Thomas, and other synonyms for penis—if these words, used properly and improperly, don’t give you delight, then probably an actual penis never will. “Play,” as in: Pumpkin, Pumpkin, peter eater.
How else to describe this period, during which all of a man’s decisions serve to advance his phallic interests; when his truncheon is a rampant despot to which the will, the flesh and the intellect are slaves and instruments; when the entire universe is nothing but an infinite possibility of spaces and enclaves that will accommodate and succor his pecker? Yes, a word whose understanding cannot but make women more compassionate toward men. Central in the understanding of a man’s life, thoughts, motivations, values. Of a time when the penis is king—Ay, every exaggerated inch a king—even if often without a kingdom. Could one conceive of a history of France without Napoleon or Louis XIV? Yet how many autobiographies and novels pretend their male protagonists hadn’t even heard of a penis, much less possessed one?
Not that I discount love, as an emotion and a value apart from the sex drive. I am big on love, as will be revealed soon in a chapter entirely devoted to pure, all-natural, Vitaminized love. But my wise elders had by this time convinced me that the human pissing equipment was “filthy.” In my mind, therefore, love was a different animal than the dirty serpent that was now rearing its head within my pants.
For the next twelve months after the birth of my manhood, I staggered around the town in fear and trembling and tent-like pants, too embarrassed to consult a doctor or confide in my friends. Then one day, restlessly looking for something to read, I stumbled upon an old nursing textbook secreted by a previous resident in the space between the matted straw ceiling and the tiled roof. Locking the door, I feverishly discovered a chapter of stone-age obstetrics that told diagrammatic tales of the Breech delivery and gave macabre cross-section views of the female and male reproductive systems including what it called the pudendum. It was my first, faint understanding of what women had under their clothes and men under their skin, fore and aft. Until now, my idea of a woman’s vital centre had been formed by a momentary mental snapshot of the dividing line that disappeared beneath my convent playmate Leela’s half-lowered chaddi*. Though clinical in the extreme, the diagrams cleared up some of my absurd misconceptions, one of which was that breasts were extended lungs which enabled women to breathe longer during a fight.
But what hit me most, what whirled my world, were those strange and delicious and wicked but pompous Latin words, which sound like the names of Roman generals, or of their wives— vulva, meatus, clitoris, labia majora, pudenda—words which glowed like exotic foreign cities on a backlit anatomical map. I read through this chapter dozens of times, my fascinated embrace of illicit joy and my sense of having reached a smutty, moral nadir each topping the other. For weeks thereafter, “pudendum” reverberated through my brain like a berserk cannon ball.
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*Chaddi: Women's underwear
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