Wednesday, March 23, 2005

21. Full Power, Twenty-Four Hours

Fig 21-1: Sunrise over the Ganges

Part of the fun of going to any given place in India that large groups of people go to is fending off the armies of children that are dispersed throughout the crowd in order to sell you things. These children offer products ranging from postcards to hot glasses of chai, while still others wander the crowd searching for handouts of coins or writing utensils (school pens!). Kids often seem to be the chosen method for marketing these products, most likely on account of their undeniable cuteness and the low-to-nonexistent cost of their labor, and although the work seems to make these kids pretty cynical, in the end, they are just children, and this has the charming side effect of a sort of playfulness in the tired old sales transaction.

None of this changes the fact that I usually won’t buy anything from people who employ almost expressly annoying marketing techniques (such as begging and pleading), although certain kids make these interactions funny, at the least, when they become exasperated, and the sale is slipping away from them.

One of our funniest dealings with the child aged sales force came a few months ago in Goa (see No 06. The New Slang), when a kid sitting in a shop stall blurted “I am Full Power!” out at me as I passed by him yet another time without buying anything. At the time, I had no idea where such an ingenious phrase could have come from, though last week, as we sat watching the nightly puja on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasai, one of the little salesmen (who was trying to sell us votive candles to float in the river) got frustrated and inadvertently completed the mysterious phrase when out of desperation, he muttered “Full Power, twenty-four hours, no toilet, no shower.”

Fig 21-2: One Person's Puja is Another Person's Marketing Opportunity

It’s nice to think that these children might all have a common language when it comes to expressing their frustration with the stinginess of the tourist population, although I’m sure that this saying is born out of a tourism-industry-wide sentiment rather than some sort of 12 and under collective consciousness. Ultimately, I think that this particular kid thought that he was saying something rude to us, though if his aim was to offend, then he picked the wrong group of tourists: all we did was start laughing and beg him repeat himself, to which he obliged us--although unlike the puja happening behind him, watching this actually cost a few Rupees.

Fig 21-3: Adult Swim


I found this blog , which seems to detail a run-in with the phrase in Bombay, although it is written in what I believe is Catalan. It's mostly readable if you can fake Spanish - evidently the complete version is "me, full power. twenty-four hours, no toilet no shower. if you wanna take a shower, come here to see my clock tower".

These people encountered a variant in Jaipur, "Indian helicopter, japati express, cheaper than bananas, 24 hours, full power, no toilet, no shower".

I also found a note on a message board using the line "from the Goa massif".

On this page it is the text of a poem by "Sananda", who is evidently the owner of the webpage in question. Considering the recent vintage and preoccupations of the poems it is doubtful that this is the origin. "Sananda", by the way, is the current nom de guerre of 80s one hit wonder Terence Trent D'Arby, of "Wishing Well" and "Supermodel Sandwich (With Cheese)" fame.

Here is the phrase used by British DJs in Spain.

This is my guess: It's Goa trance lyrics which do not appear as such on the internet because lyric transcription is not a big enough deal to tranceheads. 

Posted by Karl

3/23/2005 7:44 PM  

PS remind me to detail the Bukharan equivalent: "You so crayzay". 

Posted by Karl

3/23/2005 7:46 PM  

I'm afraid that you’ve put Google to shame on this one, and while I'll admit that I can't speak Catalan any more than I can speak Hindi or any of the 14 other official languages of India, the translation from the first website that you mentioned makes the phrase sound like a variant on the hitchhiker mantra of "Ass, Grass, or Gas ".

If this is the case, and it is such a saying, then not only am I disappointed that little kids are the ones who seem to be responsible for the proliferation of the phrase, but I'm almost sure that would follow that it's somehow tied to Goa—as the party scene there is considered about as wholesome as the hitchhiking scene (if there is such a thing) would be in the States.

As the origin of this phrase is becoming clearer, I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed that it probably isn't some sort of secret child-language. 

Posted by NICK

3/26/2005 9:43 AM  



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