Excellent Products

The AsiaObscura Book – in stores now!

That’s right! From the producer of Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, the director of Poultry in Motion: Truth is Stranger than Chicken, and the writer of The Stormglass Protocol for the iPad comes the blog compilation of the decade!

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / 1 Comment
Strange Tourism /

We Snuck Into Arthur C. Clarke’s Home, And…

Yes, when this story gets to where it’s going, I end up in Arthur C. Clarke’s armchair. I promise.

arthur-c-clarke-house4

I started this morning with a strong cup of coffee, an egg hopper doused in fish curry, and the sci-fi classic Childhood’s End. And then a thought occurred to me: Didn’t Arthur C. Clarke live here once?

We’re in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, and it’s the last day of our trip. It’s our last week in Asia. It’s actually, in a way, the end of AsiaObscura. We move back to America on Saturday.

So I did some quick searches, and not only did he live in Sri Lanka, but he lived just a few blocks away.

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / 31 Comments
Chinglish / ,

This Bangalore Service Really Covers Everything

Take care of all your morning rituals, in one handy place…

toilet-cum-bath

/ by Dean Pickles / Leave a comment
Holy Curiosities / ,

You’ll Have to Watch Out For Human Skulls in This Black Magic Graveyard

As I stepped over the leg bone, I laughed. I’m no bone doctor, but it looked human to me. Orthopaedist, is that what it’s called? I’m no orthopaedist.

Must be from a cow, or maybe a dog. Do dogs get that big? Not a human. Definitely not a human.

But then I tripped, and I stepped on a skullcap, that really nailed it for me.

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / 4 Comments
Chinglish / ,

You Won’t Believe This Incredible Thai Cookbook

We picked up this wonderfully fecal cookbook at Siam Paragon’s Kinokuniya.

cooking-with-poo

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / Leave a comment
Cute & Kawaii / ,

In Beijing, They Still Offer Cultural Revolution-era Marriage License Photos

I know this is mildly goofy, but many of Beijing’s photo labs will still produce classic Marriage License photos. And they’re just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

engagement-pic

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / Leave a comment
Chinglish / ,

This City Market Dairy Really Needs a Better Name

The dairy that keeps on giving.

anus-dairy

/ by Dean Pickles / 2 Comments
Historical Wonders / ,

The Gruesome Pasts of Mao’s Ten Great Buildings

In 1959, Mao was one hell of a proud man. As the new Emperor of China, he’d led an unbelievable boom in food production, completely eliminated the need for medicine and science, and “enticed the snakes out of their caves” with a hundred flowers — all in just ten years!

So he erected ten great buildings to honor his grand achievements. They would represent the people, the peasants, the army, the minorities — each building had a great semantic purpose. He would name them The Ten Great Buildings!

And you won’t believe the darkness that followed.

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / Leave a comment
Historical Wonders /

Photographing India, Then and Now

In London, I found the old box of slides. It was hidden in the back of my parents’ closet. I had to move fifteen other boxes to get to it. It hadn’t been touched in decades. I bought a slide scanner immediately, and went to work.

Going through the treasures inside, I keep gagging at the photos that I’m retaking 30 years later.

Some are awfully obvious, like these crackers of the Taj Mahal…

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / 6 Comments
Strange Tourism /

Little Girl on a Unicycle on a Tightrope, Jaipur 1986

I’ve been scanning our forgotten pictures from our 1980s holidays, and found this incredible picture from our visit to Jaipur in 1986: a girl on a unicycle on a tightrope. So does this still happen here in India?

jaipur

/ by Dean Pickles / 4 Comments
Offbeat Museums, The Occult / ,

A Museum of Nightmares in the Shadow of the Eiffel Tower

I don’t think about hair. I mean, sure I’m losing mine. And sure, the musical is one of the greatest things of all time.

But really… is hirsituity that big a deal? Big enough for the Musée de Quai Branly to brazenly devote an entire exhibit to it? Lord no! And Lord YES!

(Adapting my professorial voice here, and pushing my glasses up my nose ever so slightly.)

You see, hair is a symbol of sensuality, sexuality, virility. And that’s clearly why this exhibit features a score — yes, A SCORE — of shrunken heads.

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / Leave a comment
Historical Wonders, Offbeat Museums, The Occult / ,

The Ossuaries of Paris…

This was like the trip to Disneyworld I’ve never taken. My golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s factory. Our trip to North Korea.

I know you’ve already been. Many times. But walking these two kilometers, I realized why this was one of my mom’s favorite places in Paris. Two kilometers of stacked-up bones, all to us. Entirely alone. So damned romantic.

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / 3 Comments
Offbeat Museums, The Taxidermy Diaries / ,

M. Deyrolle’s Lovely Collection of Taxidermy

At 200 euros for a simple mounted mouse, Paris’ 1831 taxidermy haven is overpriced. It’s also bloated with “no photos allowed” signs, and entirely short of anthropomorphic artistry, But it was also glorious.

Oh yes, it was in fact Michelle’s dream to go…

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / 2 Comments
Offbeat Museums / ,

My Gout, and Jules Baretta’s Wax Museum of Incredible Diseases

The Bangalore doctor frowned at the printouts of my blood tests.

“Do you eat innards? You know, like brains, liver, kidneys?”

Well, dear reader, if you know me, you know the answer is yes.

“And red meat?” I nodded. “And herring and mackerel?” Oh yes! “Well, you must stop. Your urea levels are dangerously high. You are at risk of gout.”

I didn’t tell him about the trip to Paris. And here I am, doing my best to bring this gout on.

Foie gras, smoked salmon, and plates and plates of steak tartare. Fromage–chèvre, bleu, roquefort, some spicy little thing–and islands of egg white floating in a sweet cream sauce. My gout isn’t near. It’s probably already got me.

And that’s one of the reasons we stopped at Paris’ Musée de Moulages de l’Hôpital Saint-Louis, or–as it should have been called–Jules Baretta’s Wax Museum of Sweetly Incredible Diseases for the Edification of Les Students.

musee-des-moulages-1

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / Leave a comment
Historical Wonders / ,

We Sent Some of the Last Telegrams in India

If you’d asked me, I’d have confidently told you the telegram service was long gone, relegated to dusty 1930s spy thrillers, retro New York hipster bars, and awesome games I’m building.

I would have been so completely wrong.

telegram1

It turns out India actually still uses telegrams. Barely. The service is closing in days!

When I read this, I sent Woo an urgent SMS. “We’ve got to send a telegram. Pronto.” I looked at the note, and added one word to the end: “Stop.” And I knew, this was going to be awesome.

The local post office didn’t think it was as awesome as we did. “No, we don’t send telegrams,” the guy behind the counter said. “That stopped weeks ago.”

What!?!?

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / 1 Comment
Extraordinary Eats / ,

These Deranged Clown Cookies Will Give Your Children Nightmares

These Milk Bikis Milk Cream Biscuits might just be the creepiest teatime snack I’ve ever seen.

milky-biscuits2

Like the John Wayne Gacy of high tea.

/ by Dean Pickles / 2 Comments
Holy Curiosities /

This Hindu God has 1,000 Vaginas!

So I’m in the middle of R.K. Narayan’s condensed version of the Ramayana — one of the great Indian epics — and I have to re-print the amazing story of Ahalya, Gautama and Indra. It’s too amazing.

Now Ahalya was gorgeous. Like, insanely gorgeous.

Ahalya-600x600

Brahma had created her from the ingredients of beauty, itself. Of course this led to problems.

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / 6 Comments
Devoted Obsession, Offbeat Museums / , ,

On Eating Brains, and Playing With Them, at Dr Shankar’s Esoteric Museum

It came up over a bowl of brain stew at Karim’s, Old Delhi’s famously-dingy 1913 eatery.

“Tasty,” I said, wiping my mouth. “By the way, did I tell you about the brain museum in Bangalore? The architect told me we should go.”

Michelle tore off a piece of naan, and sopped up a wet chunk of brain. “We have to go,” she said.

And this weekend, we did.

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / 9 Comments
Historical Wonders / ,

Murder, Incest, and Fratricide led to The Taj Mahal?

Well, we made it to the Taj Mahal last weekend. Huge. Overwhelming. Magnificent. I wiped away a tear or two.

taj-mahal2

Shah Jahan built it in memory of his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. That’s like the awesomest romantic gesture, ever.

But I was also reading William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi at the time. It’s a great book. And according to it, Shah Jahan wasn’t just a mad romantic. He was also the head of one seriously fucked-up family — a generation plagued by incest, murder, harems, fratricide, sororicide and even patricide. It’s less Shakespeare than it is Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / 10 Comments
Other Obscura /

Antilia: The Most Gratuitous House in Mumbai

When you’re in Bombay, a great way to get some context is start in the alleyways of Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world. About a million people live here, crammed into 0.67 square miles.

“It’s like mainlining gratitude for how much we have to be thankful for,” said my old pal Chris.

I couldn’t agree more. But there’s no time to ponder that — hop in a Premier Padmini cab, and zip the few miles downtown to Mukesh Ambani’s 27-floor, 40-storey, $1bn single-family house Antilia,

Continue reading »»

/ by Dean Pickles / Leave a comment