Adventures in India

This is an open journal of some of the things I see and think about while trying to find a place to live in India. It may or may not be interesting. I make no promises.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Brown Sugar

April 11, 2005 Chennai

After six days in Puri in a cottage by the sea, smoking ganja and flirting with the waiter Srinu, I am back in hot, mobbed, throbbing Chennai. We are staying at the venerable old art-deco Dashprakash Hotel. It has a wonderful restaurant and icecream bar, and was also the scene of my spiritual bitch-slapping, 20 years before.

I was last here Christmas Eve, 1985. I stayed with a few friends from my college study tour. My friend Clair and I shared a room, and after a bizarre Christmas belly dance celebration at one of the ritzy hotels, we returned and smoked something that ripped the top of our heads off and sent us spiraling inwards on a madcap psychic adventure.

I won't go into details, because it isn't possible, and any attempt would be a bore. But suffice it to say it was a glimpse of something truly amazing. I would have given in to the terror of that great beauty, and simply have melted away. It was only the sound of Swami Narayana chanting "Aum" in Mysore that acted as a beacon light and brought me back into my body. I think it fitting that he was the only holy man I have ever asked to be my guru and he said no. Said it was too hard and that I should go be a teacher. Shows what he knew.

I have always wondered what it was we smoked; I think I found out.

This morning an ambulance pulled into the courtyard of the hotel and parked in front of the section where my room is. Somebody working for the hotel told me that they were taking away a young Itallian man who had been smoking brown sugar (smack) for the past three days and was running around naked, ranting to the skies, and refusing to eat.

They brought him down tied to a chair, eyes staring, tongue sticking out in a parody of madness. Everyone was crowding around. I went up and patted him on the head and told him it would be O.K.

No response.

He was gone.

I sat down in front of my room, said a prayer for him and then read the paper.

The ambulance doors slammed shut and it drove off.

Advice to travelers in India: don't smoke the brown sugar

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