Ch.4. Die

Alien(s) On Valium

Part 1

Over a series of short encounters, this narcissistic tale of self-realization is based in the near, mildly dystopian future, and portrays the quarter-life crisis of an Indian that is forced to move back to India in lieu of President Trump’s malicious agendas.

Alien(s) on valium focuses on the similarities, and the differences in human nature, the uniqueness, the perspectives and the variations.

Through the life of a few, it traces the paths of a billion, and maybe more.

If you haven’t, read Chapter 3, or just go for it!

Chapter 4

Death is exhaustive

—- And everyone wants to relax —-

—- Hare Krishna —-

Location: Planet Earth, a place where everybody is a hippie

Dadi (Grandma) passed away three day ago, three long, tiring days. Rohit was exhausted; all the families involved were still being led by people of a different generation, people who lived in a world of flamboyant exaggeration. Rohit didn’t have much experience with death, which is much needed in this world of attachment. Most of his life, people lived in desperation out of loneliness, rather than contentment for their singularity, it was not like Rohit hadn’t thought of death before, but more so, how passive he found himself to be at times like these. Rohit could see the formalities surrounding everything in life, why social constructs had been instilled, sometimes out of religion, sometimes fear and sometimes for the sake of socializing, believing, for the heck of it. Such factors counted to one’s place in a society of believers. Basic human respect governed that every man deserved a tangible constitution of dying rights, even a man about to be hung to death by a jallad (executioner). How could being an executioner not be the most socially unacceptable profession.

Living in an era of victimization where people were paid to execute other people.

One thing life in corporate America had taught him was people weren’t executed. Processes and procedures were executed, you can’t execute people and call it a profession. He went back to victimization and tried to paint the victim in an executioner. Only because he has the courtesy to let a dying man order his last meal.

UberEats that shit for Prisoner #458!

As if it evens out. Maybe before he pours his guts out, let alone his eyes. Rohit thought to himself, ‘if a sex offender uses a condom or even apologizes later, that doesn’t mean you’ll let him live in the same neighborhood as you, does it now?’ Rohit shrugged at his chain of thought, it had been two long days. It is easy to let oneself get lost in a chain of thought upon finally landing an opportunity to sneak in a joint after three days. He needed it just to get away from the overwhelming melodrama that his family was being forced to exhibit by nature. He thanked his elder cousin, Sangeet, for saving his life and being kind enough to help him and his uncle Kishan in keeping things in order in times of sorrow, ungraciously bestowed upon their family. Rohit and Sangeet shared a deep bond. Sangeet was kind enough to roll a joint for him, a joint at the end of the day as their aunt requested them to take a shower before dinner. Usual, but mandatory under deathly circumstances. Just like any North American power utility’s policy. They had come up to Rohit’s room, smoked on the balcony and Rohit won the coin toss on who would shower last. Coming back to his senses, executioners are neither here, nor there, in societal standing because they kill people.

Is killing criminals a crime?

 

Nobody cared for a tough debate. Is being a criminal a pre-requisite to being an executioner. A well thought out penalty. Kills two birds with one stone, the psychopaths that are happy killing people, can be administered to do that. The others, they deserve it?

The ones in for petty crimes? They become the victims of their own demeanor. Rohit slowly dialed in to the situation around him. Walking back to his room to get his MacBook. Rohit turned off the bug yellow lights inside the room and switched on the blue focus lights that shone blue on the insides of the slanted red bricked roofs. Rohit’s way of mourning, he returned to his balcony and sat with his back to the bay window as Sangeet puffed at the joint. Rohit played The Beatles, ‘Within You Without You’ – a good song to start a mellow Beatles session with!’ Rohit lit a smoke as he dimmed the backlight of the MacBook.

Stretching his legs out to the symphonies of George Harrison’s sitar!

 

 

Rohit, calmly, remembered his most sacred memory of his grandmother. If there was anything he learned one thing from his grandmother, to never lose sight of his goals, the eye of the tiger. Rohit may have lacked specificity in a couple morals in life, but he had one guiding principle in life, the eye of the tiger. When Rohit was a little boy, his grandmother taught him one essential lesson, she preached it till her dying breath. Even the last time he met her she passed on to a different universe, never forget your goal in life, whatever you have decided on. That woman, may her soul rest in peace, either trusted her blood, sometimes anyone she shared a shred of DNA with, she believed, she trusted them to make the right decisions in life. She gave them reminders, not gentle, of focus, and dedication, she was a source of motivation, a woman of character. Or she somehow knew that it was easy to fuck up in life, I guess having lived through the partition era, one knows it’s easy to get fucked by life.

A constant fear of having your life uprooted by others, by no fault of your own.

He recalled the importance of rituals to his family, their way of honoring and respecting her, of slight religious inclination. Rohit knew better than to get into this whole issue, not the right time. Au contraire, Rohit was completely fine with Kishan’s agendas, right about now. Necessity, indeed, is the mother of invention. The necessary here included mental occupancy. Involve everybody in a spiritual agenda of some kind, keep some source of peace and hope alive, hope your loved ones are in a better place after death. A pessimistic would argue that hoping for a loved one to be in a better place after death meant that they didn’t live through a good place. It’s the word, better. Again, something Rohit didn’t want to get into right now. The three were to drive to Haridwar in the morning to complete the final leg of the rituals to let his grandmother’s ashes float away in the purity of The Ganges, Ganga, the purest of all rivers, once upon a time. More than half a dozen men from Rohit’s family were taking paid time off from work to see Dadiji’s ashes sail afloat in the sacred river. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s something men do. Given none of his cousins could make it, Rohit planned such that he drove his Sangeet and Uncle Kishan.

Flicks the cigarette butt out the balcony, contributing insignificantly to the billions of pounds of waste, is also contributing. He stood with his arms hanging off the side, staring into the sky, tracing Orion’s belt as his cousin came back from his shower with the yellow guest towel wrapped around his waist. He looked at him, and said, ‘you know what we’re going to do tonight, after dinner, we are going to have a drink, we need to celebrate her life, she loved living it, and we are going to drink to it.’ His cousin looked back at him, with a straight face, but replied in total agreement.

‘Ok, let’s go get a bottle then, we can say we are going for a walk or to get ice cream or something. But go take a shower first, he won’t let you eat or sleep without it, you know it, and there’s no point arguing with him right now.

The man has a separate wardrobe for funerals, clothes he only wears to funerals, so yeah.’

He looked back at him, agreeing on the futility of argument with his uncle, and said, ‘Sir, don’t worry, I already have a nice bottle of Whiskey!’ he winked at him. His cousin replied with his seniority authority, ‘chal, nahaa ke toh aa pehle!’ (‘go, take a shower first!’) And he giggled as he picked up his laptop, as he went inside to take a shower.

He came out 15 minutes later, ending his shower with a cold rush. He yearned the post-shower cigg. Gradually accepting the fact, he wouldn’t have the time to do so, risking the smell of a cigarette in his freshly listerined breath also seemed like a fool’s errand. Until he happily encountered his cousin sitting on the bed, one joint rolled, one on the way. Cousin Xpress was almost done rolling; he was tapping the joint on his thumbnail. It had been a while, he started scanning the room as the sound of some Gary Clark Jr. blues emerged from his MacBook, under his cousin’s control. He saw two casseroles, a few smaller bowls, plates and spoons. His cousin looked up back at him, ‘they all ate and went to bed,’ and a smile came on his face, ‘I told them I’ll wait for you’ and he started laughing as he proceeded to the balcony to light a smoke.

He stood right outside the door, so they could still converse, two shots of Maker’s Mark neatly poured on the rocks, crystal glasses resting on the cemented railing, anticipating perspiration while the bottle rested back inside, on the side table.

Away from the mothership, am I stronger.

Smoke slowly, but surely, blowing into the smoggy Gurgaon ethosphere, an elusive sub-culture. They held the crystal glasses up in respect, looked at each other, in complete silence, the glasses clinked, shots downed, he collected the glasses and proceeded to make a proper drink, with ice and ginger shavings and soda, joint lit. Soon, they were half way through the joint; this joint burned slow.

#BadiDheereJali

 

Their two intermingling monologues interfering with the spliff’s light, he started blurting memories of a time he was alone with her, watching NDTV journalists aggressively report on the lowest wages in India in torching daylight, eleven rupees a day, eleven, strange, they both found it strange. They discussed how one couldn’t even eat a meal in eleven rupees. And then he stopped, and lit the joint again, he took a few puffs and passed it. And his cousin began sharing some memories from when he hadn’t even been born. He was so close to her, she was his mom, for all practical purposes. That woman was beyond the law, he loved her, he also hated her. Hated her for everything she was right about.

A packet of Lays (Magic Masala) and two Hajmola Candys – one imli and one mango!

Hajmola candy is a digestive candy. Imli = Tamarind.

4:00 AM, almost done with the bottle. Two hours to ago, time to debate whether to go to bed at all or not, but one of them had to drive. They ended up deciding that they would eat the food and go to bed. Obviously, roll a joint for the morning. Luckily, he had a stash of Adderall, exactly for such purposes; he took out six pills and packed four in his wallet. He left two mustard colored pills out with the joint.

 

 

They both went to bed, the AC on, the lights off, no music on purpose. He woke up to I’m Only Sleeping, but then the radio died. With the toll of the faceless clock’s toll, his sheets came off like a mousetrap spring, he plunged out of bed. A long hyper parabolic ejection from his bed into reality. Running beside a highway, naked. Furious. Paranoid. Depraved. Ugly. A limo pulled over a few feet ahead of him. Slowing into a jog, the door opened right as he arrived. Rohit went in. He entered a golden door to a room with purple velvet walls. He was wearing a light faded green suit with a white shirt and a black tie with tigers printed all over in different positions. A shiny mirror with a heavy gold frame, the back of a little girl with bulb yellow skin, wearing a torn dress, clothes from the 1300s dumped in space were intercepted by the inhabitants of a hidden planet. Two wormholes accidentally collided in space, a glitch in our eternal system, the mouth was huge and flattering, it covered three-fourths of the only planet in the universe with life on it. The only two ways of avoiding getting sucked into that wormhole were too either go around and see it on the way back, or to cut close to the epicenter of the collision, leverage that deflection in energy to get thrown into the atmosphere of that planet. It would be a tremendous amount of energy, they needed to land into a deep body of water, or some non-acidic liquid or a lava filled volcano, for buoyancy to counteract their acceleration. And after that fact, they only barely had enough energy to drive them back up to the surface of the water. They went for it.

Once you’ve gotten that far in life, being risk averse in not an option.

The Captain sat back in his white Spocky chair. Swiveling around, pushing a few invisible buttons on the screen, melancholic Four Tet track started playing. Groovy beats. Full throttle. The idea was to turn the engines off at the right time and drift into the force field to save as much energy. They were peaking their limits, light, space and time were blending in every direction, every color, and it was all dark. Overwhelmingly bright to the point of white, but still dark. Mass acceleration happens on covering distances so fast. You are to offer your mass to the darkness of the universe to even begin to fathom it. Don’t be afraid of the blackhole. You have power. It wants you. It will get you. Might as well enjoy the ride. Dive in to the Blackhole with the maximum speed attainable by man. Get a natural push from the outside of its mouth. The blackhole’s cosmic burp of anti-gravity is the strongest force observed in the universe. Time to turn off the engines. They didn’t know but they could’ve turned off the engines earlier, now they were late and facing the wrong direction as they entered, the captain immediately pressed the Master Throttle Pulse button on his deck, rotating them in the right direction, he waited till the smallest fraction of time for the force to kick in. An eternity. They were approaching the atmosphere, it was not huge, the land was high on ice and snow at the pole, the Captain’s finger encountered the Pulse button for a couple seconds, headed for the tropics. Bulging and broken, filled with well deep potholes, springs, bursting out streams of water like whales. They had to get into one of the spring as it’s explosion faded. The pilot pulled down his visors. The steering wheel rose from the dock. A few crazy turns around splashing springs, finding the right one, deflecting off one, and finally making their way down through the dying spray. The insides of the spring were like a vessel, they could see the next wave come from far, the pilot played with the ignition, reorienting to fly back up, this was the best-case scenario that hadn’t even expected, they saved all their fuel, the wave hit. The first landing. Smooth

And so, the dream was over.

They got up, smoked the joint, popped a 30-mg Adderall each and showered again. They split the seven-hour drive. Extended release. They got to step on it on a few stretches but the drive was not fun. With the head of the household in the back seat, music couldn’t be loud or electronic. How many deaths will it take for him to now too many people have died. The oncoming of death squeezes this man’s emotions out of his body like orange juice, pulp fiction. He could express his emotion with someone dying, but not their death. Death is an exhaustive agenda. Its inevitability is easy to get accustomed to, coping up is hard when someone physically seizes to exist. Even harder is to live without the comfort and emotional availability of someone close to the heart. The idea that you would never see someone again sinks in the first wave of breathlessness. The idea that you would never be able to hear them talk and say what they would’ve said is what sucks. Yes, you will never hear their voice again, but their voice is still in your head. They are more a part of you dead than they were alive. When someone dies, their soul rises in dust. You snort it like cocaine, but this trip lasts forever. There are phases to coping up with death, there’s a sinusoidal wave of fear against death, first you are afraid that your own existence will seize to exist but then the roller coaster slides down a steep slope, you roll up your sleeves and beg to bring it on. Both positive and negative peaks are not ideal, nature’s law of balance needs to be achieved here, that is the simplest solution. It is easy to just let thoughts come and go, it just needs some practice. Coping up with death is like a tiny fish trying to swim against a massive wave, this realization of death is the moment the fish realizes that life would be easier if it swam with the wave, with the flow, rather than against it. After that, it’s just about persistence and finding direction.

Baby, tuna’s good but only for sandwiches!

Once you’re in the salmon league, you have a limitless illusions of perfection to accompany you. He was three hours into the drive, a clear blue sky in his head, clouds of sleep nowhere to be found, a breeze. The sky can be clear blue and white and yellow to us, but out there it’s all dark, death is not a blackhole, it is a wormhole. His grandma is floating somewhere in the starry darkness of the universe, being shipped to her new life. The Amazon Prime of the universe. His cousin stretched, ‘damn that’s a sweet empty stretch ahead of you bro’, he looked in the rear view mirror, his uncle looking at him, waiting for him to step it. His uncle was thrilled with speed.

His uncle thought speed was cool.

He thought about his grandmother, she also had a sweet empty road upon her, step on it, switching to manual, shift to five, six seconds later, shift to six, he was touching 200 kmph. He looked in the rear view and a slight look of care started to take over his uncle’s face, he was looking right into his eyes in the rearview mirror. He could read the million words in his eyes, and communicate a million and one back. He gently acknowledged his uncle and began to slow down as the road curved ahead, still speeding.

He realized the swerve of the impending turn in due time, a sense of alarm in his cousin he harshly hit the brakes. That late 2010 Honda was only built for so much, good brakes and bass. And, so it skids. To control his speed, he overtook a HORN OK PLEASE, the slightest of scratches on the rear end as he cut close at the last minute, that would’ve been one disastrous hit. Intentionally avoiding the glaring eyes in the rear-view mirror, the look on his uncle’s face, priceless. Smoothly settling back into his lane. The milestone read: Haridwar. 104 km. Mile markers all the way, the robust state of the Indian transportation system. Jai Hind. They drove another 2 hours, making a pitstop at the ghat at 4 PM. Finalizing the arrangements for tomorrow morning, after which they were to drive back home. All the fidgety way, they drove to let her ashes swim in the purging Ganges. Ganga. Mother. Grand Mother.

As usual, his uncle was downloading his troubles to the priests, feeding their business acumen, hoping to be blessed with proclamations with religious inclinations. The idea that bad luck can be the only thing holding you behind from championing through life, has been capitalized to its full potential by every religion, the question is whether it was intentional. After all, what happens to your body after death is, not for any good, governed by some religion that you probably weren’t dedicated to. Meanwhile, not far from here, DJs of this generation record these mantras and mix them with electronic music, in good taste. Some of these kids aren’t even Indian. These mantras are the choruses of psychedelic music across the globe. It was mos-def a well-known fact that these “lords” pursued interests in psychedelia, let alone womanizing. Bhole Nath, Lord Shiva, a.k.a Lord of Psychedelia. On that scale, you will also find Draupathi, and Aphrodite. All this while, the Bible clearly instructs (note to reader: choice of word is intentional) one to refrain in indulging in non-platonic relations with everyone but a strange woman. Everyone includes one’s father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, grandfather, grandmother, etc. Talking about non-platonic things makes me think of platonic things, like Plato himself. No wonder Morrison killed himself! Unfortunately, we live in a world where Morrison is dead.” He needed to be Morrison drunk tonight. His cousin was down for it. The only problem was sourcing the alcohol in this sacred town, so they decided to toke and walk around the city. One fat spliff later, they were walking down slanted streets with mustard bricked houses. Mud in your lungs, everything tasted earthy. On one side, an eternally weeping river, a grand fort of the lord lit across the shore, in the air as well, a lot of shor (noise). On the other side, the clichéd yellow street lights.

IMG_5441

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Photo Courtesy: alienonvalium

He instantly snapped to his favorite café in Montrose, a gloomy Christmas evening, an empty coffee house with the five Asian customers, strangers from different origins, a young blonde southern lad wiping down the retro coffee machine, Bitcoin at the back of his head. A classroom world map at the far end, neon lights at the other, everywhere else, non-clichéd yellow lights. Motherfuckin’ non-clichéd yellow lights! Sitting in that coffee house he was thinking of calling his uncle that night. He heard his uncle talking, that couldn’t be happening, he was on speaker phone. He probably came out just to walk and talk. His uncle is an attention seeker, and is addicted to his phone. If only he walked whenever he talked, he would be a healthier man. He snapped back to reality, oh there goes gravity, he missed a step but managed to maintain balance, and stop his cousin from taking the final step into the alley from which he suspected his uncle was coming. He noticed concern in his uncle’s tone. He was talking to his aunt, and frowning at how he was unable to locate his nephews, and how it was typical of him to wander off since as a kid. The moment was here, he improvised, his cousin thought he was delusional. Lord Shiva’s dream. He took charge, he had been in this situation before.

‘Where the hell have you guys been?’

‘We just came out for a walk, we were stuffed with all that food, where are you going?’ The master trick to conversation after getting high was to counter every question with a question, or just turning the tables around. ‘Pandit Ji passed away, he had a heart attack! Come with me!’ and his uncle marched.

 

Where will we find another pandit? You kiddin’ me, this is a town full of pandits.

 

His uncle was a dutiful saint. This duty, luckily, was mostly of a moral proclivity. He patted his cousin on the back to get his shit together, shit was going down in real life, and inside his head, he was tripping bad, and shit was starting to rise up, towards the fan. Shit-ception. The pandit’s house stood upon an ever so beautiful piece of sub-urban real estate, in a mesh of open wastewater streams.

The insides of the pandit’s house were coming down like the beginning of a mission in the Call of Duty Sahara Edition, signals were weak, glitches in the image. Inside a globe of mud. Hazy, long eggplant shaped bulbs with strikes of electron streams. The pandit’s younger son, barely 23, the henna hadn’t gone off his wife’s hands, wearing a red kurta and dhoti, a heavy scruffy beard. An ideal dutiful son. That’s what every father wants from his son, to maintain calm at his death. A few clay pottery wheels on the side, at least a dozen pots, a variety of sizes, every bead, every stroke of the white paint brush was visible in high definition. The dead pandit’s face was a blur, Arkangel-ish. The pandit was a man.

 

A picturesque moist silhouette of the pandit’s junk formed as the Tide whitest sheet embraced his freshly bathed naked body, they didn’t care to dry the pandit.

 

Does a dead man deserved to be dried? Looks of despair, shock, sorrow and reality shuffling through his uncle’s eyes. His cousin dumbfounded. This was also the moment his uncle was figuring out that his two chumps weren’t sober. He started acting drunk, speaking too much. Asking questions to the pandit’s family, making sure they were okay. His uncle was hugging distant pandits like they were his high school buddies, letting them cry on his shoulder. Cry on a stranger’s shoulder. The bells tolled, it was the hour of the last aarti of the day. The one the pandit facilitated. The main temple was a couple blocks away, but there were smaller temples and everyone had small bells at their prayer rooms at home. These bells were rung with every aarti at the main temple. Most folks even carried a bell in their belt, or tiny one in their wrists. The toll of the bell had been decentralized as everyone rang their own.

Hush, hush, the pandit’s lush!

He heard a crowd approaching with a million shushes. And then one, the final one. He looked up at his uncle as he came out of embracing the pandit’s 90 year old mother like he hugs his distant grandmothers. The pandit’s mother, a piece of nature in her own self, a few broken teeth, a clichéd dented pair of spectacles. He looked at his uncle, holding his cousin by the shoulder from walking into a few orange garlands. The world was starting to turn black and white. His uncle’s eye balls like a mongrel at a fish market, staring and glaring into everything around. Neighbors were beginning to mourn outside. The pandit’s mother walked slowly towards the door to accept everyone’s condolences with pride. He rushed to help the pandit’s mother walk to the door, looking at his uncle who had his frowning what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-you-why-are-you-not-helping-her look on the horizon had he not.

We’ve been brought up a particular way, we help elders walk, whether we know them or not. Albeit, a stranger on the street.

Meanwhile, his cousin waited for an ironic wind to blow the white sheets off to reveal the face of the dead Pandit, and his junk. His cousin was lost in thought until he was handed a tray of Khus Sherbet to serve. A big fucking tray with over 12 tall, unorganized steel glasses. The imbalance was through the roof. The moment the tray was handed to his cousin, reality struck, oops there goes gravity. It was time for the Gold Gym memberships to pay off, creatine dreams were coming true, muscle reflex was keeping the tray from falling. He circled around, from his cockpit, he felt like a dazed zombie trying to figure out his first step on a non-existent space ship. As his cousin approached the threshold of Pandit Ji’s dynasty, Rohit started doing the math, three glasses, and four people on the porch. Rohit could feel his uncle figure out the linear model playing out in his head, he avoided his uncle’s glare because he got distracted by his cousin’s drooling. As his cousin parked the tray ahead of him, a mutual understanding, Rohit picked up one glass and gave to the Pandit’s mother. Then, he picked up both glasses, the cousin immediately put the tray on his side, he handed one glass to the Uncle Ji who stepped up from the crowd, the immediate neighbor. Another uncle had started walking making sight of the young lad with the Sherbet tray, but he took a good chug at the glass in his right hand before the uncle could make it to the porch, avoiding eye contact on purpose, again, he was getting an expert at this. Rohit then handed the glass, half full, to his cousin, to quench his yearning thirst. Rohit was recharged. The hashish clouds were drifting away, a clear night sky. Then, as the second uncle stepped up the porch, he illustratively signaled his cousin to go check if they had arranged for serving all these people outside. And then a fake drowsy smile with a stubble, he brought his hands together to greet the stranger. Namaste Uncle.

Death is exhaustive. Khus is to me, what spinach is to Popeye.

4 rounds of Khus later, it was almost midnight. They were heading back. His uncle’s phone vibrated, as a cow moo-ed. His uncle fetched his hand from under his khaki shawl. ‘Ji. Okay, Thank you, thank you very much.’ His uncle shifted his hand back into his shawl, it was cold for him, he was hot blooded, it was always cold for him. He looked at them as they made the final turn, ‘Pandit Ji was going to do everything for us tomorrow, so we his nephew volunteered to do everything instead, tomorrow afternoon at 3 PM. So it will be 4 by the time we leave.’ Rohit’s uncle paused, “Do you guys see how dedicated these guys are to their duty, I’m impressed by their respect for their dead uncle, and their respect for us, and your grandmother. Pandit Ji, and his family, used to worship your grandmother. Pandit Ji cremated father also, and mother was the only one around at the time, no one was there to help. She carried father’s body here in a taxi, all by herself, while she was expecting me, and found Pandit Ji. Back then, not a lot of pandits were open to the idea of having woman present at the time of the cremation. Mother couldn’t let father burn alone. She always said, when we burn the dead, a part of us burns with the dead. A part of the soul that rises from the ashes as dust and remains with those around it. The men of this family will be there tomorrow. And she will remain a part of us, and our children! And you are the children of this family, a piece of her will live on through your children. And you are high!” His uncle praised his lord, his sweet lord. His uncle never questioned his faith, but he could use a visit from his lord right about now. He didn’t even want to bother his lord with his worries, he just wanted to talk to his lord.

 

Dear Lord, just a visit from you would suffice.

 

 

Rohit mentioned, ‘come on, we had a long drive, have one again tomorrow, we needed to relax. Not like we went out looking for alcohol or we knew Pandit Ji was going to d’. Rohit paused, some things were better left unsaid, especially around his uncle. Hi uncle exclaimed in anger, ‘here, of all placed here, you had to get drunk here!’ A fuse went inside him, ‘We didn’t even bring alcohol, you asked Pandit Ji’s nephew to show us around, he showed us around for a bit and then took us to a paan waala (local smoke shop) and asked us if we wanted some masala lassi, it was bhaang, we only found out after we had chugged one. It felt relaxing, so we had another one. Look we’re being honest here, I think you are also stressed out, we just need to relax.” Rohit assessed whether it was time for a joke, his improv days in the US demonstrated a successful track record of his comic timing. “To be honest, you can probably use a masala lassi (yogurt drink) right about now!” His uncle gave a funny glare and asked the best question of Rohit’s life.

“The paan wala next to Shiv Dhaba’s parking lot?”

Rohit’s fuse instantly ticked, his uncle wouldn’t have asked such a specific question unless he had, in fact, visited this paan wala. Not only visited, but obviously, tried the infamous masala lassi! Rohit smiled back, and had a feeling he knew what was coming when his uncle said, “Did he make you try some hashish as well?” Rohit always questions his saintly uncle, and whether his uncle and his father pursued recreational interests like he does, and the moment was here. Hallelujah, my sweet lord. Krishna Krishna. This was the 10,000th attempt of answering a question with a question that would earn Rohit the mastery, “Would you like to try some!”

 

 


Stay tuned for more. As always, feedback appreciated and viewed as constructive criticism.

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