She sits on an open bus headed to Rishikesh. The yogi ashram. A paradise for hiking, meditation, rafting, yoga and all things mystic. She heads there in hopes of….
Nothing. No hopes no expectations, just ride. I sit midway on the bus where the entrance is a folding door that won’t stay shut. It creaks open with every road bump and men stream in and out at every red light. I watch and observe, knowing this is well normal. The bus rocks down the road and its like riding in scrapes of metal soldering together. The air is humid but as the sun begins to set, wind chills breeze throughout the cracked windows. The A/C bus was taking off at 21:30 and with a five hour ride ahead, I’d rather risk it on this bus than arrive in Rishikesh in the early hours of the morning.
The fog is thick today. The smell and feel of India compresses against my body. With a long bus ride ahead, I come prepared. Two half sandwiches and a bottle of water sit on my lap. My fusia colored back pack also sits on my lap. It has everything I could possibly need. Unless I’m sleeping, I never lose sight of it. Tissues, wipes, tooth brush, toiletries, lap top, camera, document copies, passport, wallet, spoon and fork, shit ton of cash, and most importantly, tampons. Scenarios of escape thrillers rush through my mind and I can only imagine surviving with this back pack. Prepared. I am always prepared, and if it really comes down to it, my brain is the only survival kit I really need.
Hours into the ride and I’ve been reminiscing on past adventures. Pai, Thailand. A beautiful town in the high mountains, full of wonders. The best adventures I’ve had. Renting scooters and riding three hours to giant caves and hot springs and enjoying the freshest, juiciest, red strawberries I’ve ever known to exist. On our way up we passed maybe 15 other scooters and the way we raced around those curved mountains, close to the edge, reminded me of my entire childhood playing Mario Racecarts. It was freezing up there. We sped down the mountain trying to make it home to change into dry clothes and sip on a few buckets of alcohol, Thailand’s special buckets.
A young blonde American stands with his friend at the hostel bar. He’s wearing his sunglasses and a stuck up attitude. Americans. I’m rolling with my Australian mate and two Dutch friends we picked up along the way. We order our buckets and Alice and I head into her dorm to change. The planning begins. We’ve heard of a place where we can find some green goods and it lies not far from here. A herd of people walk into the dorms and they’re talking loudly about their recent adventures. “I think we passed you guys on the way up there.” The blonde from the bar talks to Alice. She smiles and continues the conversation. “We’re going to this bar, Sunset Bar, if you’d like to come.” He looks at his friend and they contemplate the details, who’s driving, when to go, what to do after. I stare at Alice and roll my eyes inside. Great, more small talk to entertain.
The beeping outside of my windows wakes me from my mind dreams. This is India not Thailand. The desolate scenery outside is changing. More bright lights are present and we seem to be driving on well paved roads. Still, there is at least an hour left and it is hard to keep my mind from wondering into places it desires.
We each take our own scooters. Alice, Australia, Dutch boy, the American and his friend and then I. It’s dark out and when we arrive at the bar, we are the only ones there. An empty bamboo porch with neon lights, two pool tables and a bar selling juice. Juice? Yeah, the alcohol is at the bar next door. No wonder this I empty, I thought. No matter, we were there for one reason only, the green goods. From traveler to traveler we had asked around and it was told that we had to ask the owner of the bar. Australia, with not a fuck in the world, asks for the owner. After 5 min, a tall skinny tanned fellow walks out and up the back stairs. The bamboo porch is wide and underneath a straw roof. The stairs in the back lead to a higher dirt path where no light shines. Australia looks at me and nods. With all the power and the cash, I put my drink down and follow him to the back. I meet his offer at the top of the stairs with rolled up 500 Thai baht. Two seconds of a switch and we’re done. Mission accomplished.
The blonde American sits against the wall. It’s dark and his sunglasses are glued to his face. So where are you from? And the small talk begins…
It’s freezing outside. Sleeping bags are scattered on the rooftop hangout above the dorms. After a night of drinking, card playing, and international bonding, stray travelers have passed out. Myself included, I lie underneath the star filled sky on a thin mattress with just a bed cover. No, not just a bed cover. I’ve awoken from the cold and lie shivering. I grab the covers and hug it tighter to my body. I grab his arms, and hug him tighter to my body. Body warnth, I tell myself. Bullshit I tell myself, as I sink in his scent. I look up and feel his bare chest against my own, his eyes are closed shut but he’s not resting. Skin against skin and I can feel the current of energy flowing within him. He is not resting. Tense. Fast. Uncontrolled. I feel it before I see it. He is not resting. Do not move… The energy is too much and my body slightly inches to find some way to comfort him. Snap. His arms tighten around my ribs, my head which was lying on his chest is now straining to look up. His body is shaking and as I squeeze from underneath his grip, I prop up to look into his awakened blue eyes. Blue eyes. Naked, Raw, Vulnerable.
I snap out of my dreams again. This is India, not Thailand. We should be arriving soon. The bus has emptied a fair amount and we seem to be heading intown. A delux Twin Private, two bottles of alcohol, and an Australian mate awaits the arrival of Avi and I.