I’d been in India for over a year. All days felt like days I could die. I felt anxious. I felt dead inside.
I was thinking, the thrill is gone, when the acid kicked in, in Malana, while smoking m-cream, living in one big Himachal Dream, lying in bed with a few Himalayan clouds.
We had trekked up to heaven and met a nomad jewelry maker who had left everything behind but had been a good father. Who told stories about 99 year land deals after 10 years ownership, rice pullers, ruby mines, and Australians killing Nepali for millions of dollars.
And that was all fine.
I was stoned and he story-told, as hash stuck to my fingernails: it was all just a dream. Hementh was outside painting those big yellow flowers. Cigarette burns from dumb girls stuck to my arm. The floor was smeared with ash, and then coated again with hash.
I was sitting, imagining myself holding on to a root, letting it create vines against my hand sending thrills up my spine forever.
At night we burned burnt wood. Stuck cream to bowl to “bro, roast some tobe” to safi to fill up that chillum to round n’ round the merry-go-round for hours and hours.
We lived on tea, chapathis, spring water, and charas. We climbed up hills, stumbled, and slept in new places every night. I learned about ways to make money, tricks, and all sorts of tools to become rich rich rich.
I was feeling nothing, and I was feeling too much.
Then there was S, who I couldn’t take my eyes off of, ordering someone to get him a cigarette, with his pants falling down, leaning against a speaker system, switching from psy to psy, all songs like that, and I said,
“Hey, smoke one smoke one for you baby.”
And he said, “Hey get one smoke for me,” and came over and started twirling my nose ring in place. I tried to pull up his pants instead.
“Paapa kutti,” he said. My nickname.
He pushed my hand into his, lacing our fingers into each other. I remembered that I’m in India and that I have a choice to hide away. Then he walked back to the speakers, and it felt like large black spiders were crawling in my thoughts.
I learned you could draw a design for a temple and then sell it the next day and pay for your stay for up to a month. I learned how to smuggle hash from a hash smuggler. I learned how to make anything I wanted invisible.
I learned all this from a man up in Himachal Pradesh, the happiest man in the world.
The Happiest Man in the World passed me the joint. The Happiest Man in the World was a magician, he smoked 120 chillum shots a day!
“F half it,” the man said, and we went in rotation. Me, S, and this nomad sitting on cushions surrounded by flies, and it was all going great until the joint sizzled out in a coconut. All the smokers kept on smoking, but I’d forgotten how to socialize. And then the thrill was gone. And I was ready to go home.
I thought about the cigarette shop S would run to when we’d had a fight. The corner he’d sit in because it made him feel like “someone’s hugging me.”
“I’m tho thoned,” I said to him.
“I’m sooking,” he replied.
“My Kind of India” started to play. Joseph walked in with his hands on his hips and said in a smoker’s laugh: “Thut da puck up,” by pronouncing the “p” in “puck” by blowing the hair out of his face. S looked at him, his hands sticking cream to bowl, and said “bro, roast some tobe” and proceeded to safi to fill up that chillum to round n’ round the merry-go-round for hours and hours.
Joseph walked out of the room laughing. I turned to look at the caps of the Himalayas, waiting for something to appear. I saw a few new travelers in the front yard. Some friends from before loading up their own chillum. A guy playing guitar next to the fire pit. Men who liked everything, but didn’t touch alcohol. Men whose fathers had introduced them to LSD. All of them smiling and together. It used to be so easy to make friends, to be nice to everyone. There were no in betweens in India, always just two extremes, and my feelings in this country leaned toward the extreme.
S came over and sat down. He started to listen to my heartbeat. I felt his breath warm that hard spot on my chest. I felt my heart ticking like a time bomb. I wanted to go home but I couldn’t go home, at least not yet. I wrapped my index finger around his thumb and squeezed it twice. Our code. I remembered that I’m in India because of this reason only: because I couldn’t be without him.
To see more of my journey in India, follow me on Instagram @howtomakeitinindia