Varanasi II

Jasper® had been eying myself as though I were a freak enigma, I’d noticed. Not more than one sixteenth (my two strongest lines are Dane & Ruysn) of any ancestral heritage, a Vietnam veteran from the Rocky Mountains who domiciled with Blackfeet Indians. I was pitched by the sisters as the ‘wild man’ along on this dubious pilgrimage. Now, it so happened the ‘Bandit Sister’ liked my company and we shared ‘war stories’, not about war per se, but about those numerous compromising circumstance and odd events that make life interesting. And I noticed Jasper® liked to position himself, unobtrusively, so as to overhear our conversation. Clearly, this was about trying to get some sense of just what this strange Ron West humanoidish thing was, without committing himself to direct interaction. Meanwhile, I had determined Jasper® was certainly intelligent but wary of being a fish out of water. He was competent to do a few things in this life; that is superficially escape his aristocratic English origins while alternating between lives as an somewhat infamous counter-culture figure and a nearly authentic sadhu. But, as previously noted by a certain baba, Jasper® could never really altogether live the latter, on account of his inability to surrender the former. And he was most certainly insecure on account of this and protected himself from keenly penetrating intellect that were outside his comfort zone and I was outside that zone. But now this would change.

The sisters had rented a large wooden boat for the day, the kind with a long oar that could be used as a pole, complete with a boatman. We initially used this craft to take us across the Ganges River, away from and upstream from the ‘ghats’, to a beach that was fairly isolated. And it was here several of us did a ritual bathing in the river according to Hindu tradition. For myself, it was an anthropological interest as much as anything, I was along for the ride and curious. Now, this ‘remission of sins’ or ‘cleansing’ is to do with the goddess Ganga and a whole lot of mythic history I won’t go into here. I’ll say nothing to upset this goddess, as I was so loaded with sins, these innumerable acts insisted on leaving my person by route of my ear in the form of a fungus; so effective was this cleansing bath. This fact would detour my fate, at a future time.

That evening, back in the care of our boatman, we lit our Diwali candles in a little boat shaped leaf, and sent them floating on the river. Each of us was supposed to say something significant for ourselves as we, one by one, lit the candle and released these votive offerings to float away. Here was my chance at Jasper® and it broke him down, he was afterwards actually able to open up a little bit and share some stories.

Diwali_Lamps

When I’d lit my little fire ship and sent it on its’ short lived journey, I uttered a calm speech that was one part eloquence, one part philosophy and one part self-deprecating humor, all intermixed, as I noted the little boat’s fire sputtered on as my life had sputtered on, against all odds. Jasper® was transfixed, giving me a combined penetrating stare-look of amazement. I’d got to him. Now, I’ll be the  first to admit I have no idea what would be the mental construct of a high IQ having been raised a British aristocrat turned rebellious, and after, living a schizophrenic life bouncing between the drug imbibing western counter-culture and ascetic life as sadhu in India, but I wanted some of his stories. And Jasper® delivered. Looking back, some of what he became comfortable confiding in my presence, is nothing short of amazing. But as my style is deconstructing western culture, a dedicated hobby, I’ll restrict my retelling of Jasper®’s anecdotes to one incidence, incredibly socially incriminating, as well as politically salacious. More on that, later. But now it was Jasper®’s turn to impress myself and he delivered, to be found in the next chapter.

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My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)