Archives for posts with tag: Jasper Newsome

Our bus journey into the foothills began with a pissed off look from a bicyclist we nearly ran over in the flat-lands, not far outside of Delhi. Covered in dirt from the tumble he took to escape being squished like a cockroach by our large tires, he must’ve had that philosophical thought common to the people of that country; wondering what was the omen in the experience, relevant to day that lie ahead. The traffic was incredible; the familiar ‘Lambretta’ of my Vietnam memories, a sort of tricycle pick-up truck with a two-stroke engine belching blue fumes, lots of those intermixed with more conventional (to westerners) sedans and vans, the larger cargo trucks, and buses with so many people in them, commuters were hanging out the open door and sitting on the top. And in the mix of this, too many bicycles to count, as well the many people walking alongside the road, adding to immense bedlam of humanity in motion. And finally we were out of the insane traffic and into the amazing Himalaya foothills, on our journey to Almora, a so-called ‘Hill Station.’

The first thing I noticed was, the pines. The Chir Pine of Northern India…


…bears a remarkable resemblance to the Ponderosa Pine of Montana:


My feeling was a sort of déjà vu. With the same bark and bunch needles, it was an uncanny feeling; knowing I was on the other side of the planet in a forest that looked and felt like home. The trees were the same. Once a fair distance into the hills, our driver pulled out at a roadside parking place, where our cook pulled out his equipment and began preparing an afternoon meal. I wandered off, walking along a path into the trees, simply to feel the ambiance. The forest  was a balm from the intensity of the human experience that is New Delhi.

The cook had long since packed up his gear before everyone had been persuaded the journey should resume … and now, the driver was becoming more and more frenetic as he pushed our bus to the limits it could handle on those many hairpin turns negotiating the unforgiving cliffs as we penetrated deeper into the hills. I knew the score and was sitting up front close to the driver .. the Tibetan had tipped me off to the reason underlying our driver’s near panic. Bandits were operating after dark in the area and we had dallied too long with our late, roadside, lunch. Now night was threatening to overtake us, prior to arrival at our destination. So, if the forest was an uncanny resemblance to Montana in the present, the forest’s characters apparently bore an uncanny resemblance to Montana of the past: when ‘The Wild Bunch’ was still operating. I admit a certain visceral pleasure in Bummer John’s look of redoubled, helpless stress, when he’d asked, and I informed him, of the reasons for our driver’s unnatural hurry.

When we had arrived at Almora, Jasper® & Socket™ had vanished, for the duration of our stay. I had no idea why, then, but being an old intelligence hand, and having made a short study of the possibilities, I can make an informed supposition. A posse must have been after them.

Not long prior to our rendezvous with these characters in 1984, Neil Oram relates an encounter Jasper® had at a nearby baba’s ashram:

At Sri Babaji’s Ashram near Herakhan in the Himalayan foothills, Jasper® and Babaji conversed in demotic Hindi and a part of their conversation went like this:

Babaji: What’s that around your neck?

Jasper®: It’s my Nath beads.

Babaji: You’re not a Nath!

Jasper®: Yes I am.

Babaji: No…you’re a dope dealer from Almora.

Jasper®: No, I’m Ram Giri…a Nath sadhu.

Babaji: No…you’re a dope dealer from Almora.

Jasper®: O.K., forget it. Next life I’ll live all the rules of a Nath sadhu.

Babaji: No, next life…you’ll be a dope dealer with a chai shop.

Jasper®: Alright Baba, the life after that one I’ll be a real Nath yogi.

Babaji: No! In that life also… you’ll be a dope dealer running a chai shop in Almora.

In other words, a classic case of someone’s reputation preceding them.

The highlight of Almora was, the delightful hospitality of a Mr Sharma. An elderly, retired civil servant, he was interesting, well informed, inquisitive and we spent hours in engaging conversation. This reflected the sisters’ character; for every devil we encountered, there was an angel manifest.


My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)

Letter to the De Sousa clan of India

By the time of  this trip, I was a mere eight years into my Native American education. Now, I say ‘mere’ on account of in the old ways of that world, a typical education is ten years in ‘novice’ stage, beginning with puberty, followed by twenty years of ‘journeyman’ and by the time you were forty years of age, the advanced levels of knowledge were made available. By now I understood from that world, certain dreams were considered to be time travel. And I’d had a dream, but more on that later.

My first week in India was spent in New Delhi, being a more typical western tourist, getting to know the strange lot the sisters has assembled. We visited the ‘Red Fort’ where some locals treated us to an impromptu show:


Walking the rampart, overlooking the large lawn, we heard shouting .. “Magic show, magic show!” .. and looking down, I stopped and watched. There were three men, one with a drum pounding a beat, another the master of ceremony shouting out to us and a third guy doing some levitation act; he was wearing a huge tarpaulin like a poncho, only his head visible in the center. The entire assemblage of human integrated canvass rose into the air like some strange kite getting off the ground; a large, circular wing of horizontally spread cloth, with head protruding from the center, rising in a slow spin to a height of what looked like five meters. It really was quite impressive and someone wondered aloud ‘should we give them something’ and I stated I’d not bought a ticket to come and watch this, and we moved on as though the show were meant to be free.

Some of the characters we met in India, not all, are fair game in this essay, but for the westerners along on this trip, I will provide alias. This is on account of personal history; not everyone would need or want public association with a persona such as myself.

Aside from the sisters, I will deal with them in a separate chapter, our crew consisted of these westerners:

One Canadian, a Christian minister shaky in his faith; one hard-core but very cool dyke from Basin, Montana; one pot smoking astrologer from New York; one very rich, manic widow of a former president of a major capitalist corporation, personally acquainted with Imelda Marcos; her sensible grown daughter; and myself.

And (other than the sisters) we had these people along, we met in India:

One opium addicted, privileged Englishman who’d run away from his ‘proper’ mother (who was on familiar terms with Indira Gandhi) & had spent the preceding twenty years living in India as a sadhu; one Bihari musician who’d been subverted to a certain degree by long time acquaintance with the sisters; one Tibetan exile from the north of India; one Muslim bus driver for part of the trip & his associate, a Hindu cook.

After the Red Fort, I tagged along with the astrologer and the minister, to have a look around the neighborhood in the vicinity of Hotel Imperial. Sikh palm readers nabbed them. I said ‘forget it, I’m not in on this’ as they were hustled into an ally to have their fortunes read. As I waited for them, out on the main street, there was this man wanted to sell me a sort of small crochet tool, I had no need for at all. He had them packaged in discarded plastic tampon sleeves. I was this persistent entrepreneur’s prisoner because I was not willing to abandon the astrologist & minister to their fate; as a Sikh would time to time would emerge from the alley to wave at me, insisting my friends wanted me to join them. I refused, figuring they’d get out alive, at least, if I, the living witness, was not foolish enough to take the bait. Both of them were fleeced.

This was the event that caused an early executive decision on my part; I would go native, to avoid the incessant pestering westerners typically endure, from the wandering street vendors and fortune tellers, not to mention likely pick-pockets and robbers. As a younger man, I had turned black in Vietnam’s tropical sun, my Roma blood, no doubt. With the purchase of native clothing, I knew I could do this.

‘Bummer John’, the sobriquet I will give to the pot-smoking astrologer, was our trips first casualty. After the fortune tellers had practically robbed him, Jasper (his real name), the opium addicted Englishman, took Bummer John to a local New Delhi opium den where Bummer perused the menu and ate too large a dose of hashish laced with opium. Fleeced twice, now having taken on Jasper’s opium habit upkeep, and horrified at the Indian lower class poverty he witnessed over several days of ongoing high from the drug he’d ingested, this sheltered western mentality went into depression he never came out of, throughout our trip. At least he didn’t kill himself.

Our trip’s second casualty was the Canadian minister. He almost immediately contracted malaria and had to go home. God must have loved him.


My Madcap Adventure (all episodes)

Letter to the De Sousa clan of India

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