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Gentleman’s Club

(Post from Jan 28, 2015 – that i just found in my drafts. Somehow escaped my sight, so here it is)

Location: Tarapoto, Amazon Basin, Northern Peru.

Life after the jungle has been surprising. The rules are as follows. No spices, no citric, no fats, no coffee, no carbs, no meat, no tomatoes, no onions, no drugs, no sex, no weed. For at least 30 days.

When i got out of the retreat, i came straight to Colores, the same place i had spent 10 days the last time i was in Tarapoto. This time around, there were 3 men when i checked back in (with Juan Carlos). So it’s now officially a gentleman’s club. That’s an awesome strategy to keep all horny thoughts away, for a straight guy at least. We occupy hammocks in boxers all day and have farting contests. The one that makes everybody run for fresh air wins. Fernando is the current unbeaten champion. Dora the dog comes in a close second, but she doesn’t win any prizes cos she’s female. At other times, we play poker. I suck at it though.

We watch movies, from my collection of 10 flicks that i carry everywhere, on J-C’s big screen. I’ve even downloaded spanish subtitles so they can all understand, and i can learn spanish too. Sometimes J-C takes the tv into his room to skype. I bet skype sex is better on a 50 inch screen. But i sure hope he’s not cheating on the diet. He’s broken up and patched up with his girl 4 times in the last three weeks.

He, and every other fucker here has a bad habit of putting used matchsticks back in the matchbox, and if i berate them they just laugh and tell me to fuck off. ‘Hahahahah fuck off you indian guy’. So i spend my time reading Palahniuk, watching TV shows (just finished Homeland S04), my fave movies on repeat with Spanish subtitles, listening to amazonian music, playing the guitar, playing with Dora, and removing used matchsticks from matchboxes. Not the most exciting life i’ve led, but definitely the most peaceful and contented. Sex, drugs & rock n roll can take a vacation.

Last week, on 22nd Jan, we opened an Indian veg resto ‘Bambu’ as part of Colores. The place was mostly done up by Miro, the one-man-army from Halifax, Canada who came here to start a new-earth project in the jungle. For cycling down the Nevada desert naked in the early 90s, he deserves his own post on this blog. Our chef is Margie, who lives 10 blocks away. She spent 12 years in India, Poona to be specific, and she makes amazing chole-bhatura. My job was helping Fernando and Gabriel (from the Canary Islands) to paint the logos and signs outside, and playing bollywood music on opening night. Dished out my favourite tunes growing up, from Amitabh Bachchan movies to Aamir Khan flicks, to R D Burman and Kishor and even some Rahman thrown in for eclectic feels and all that. Bollywood night in an Indian veg restaurant in Peru. How we never cease to surprise ourselves…

The next day we were in the papers. There’s a pic of me hiding behind the laptop screen. I’m going to make a youtube playlist for Margie to play every night. Maybe i’ll share it with you.

This week i’m in San Roque de Cumbaza, where the town is gearing up for the carnaval, the biggest festival all over south america. Every nook and corner is going to be a massive party. And i’m headlining act on Sunday night. AND, i’m going to be playing sober. But there’s no other way than to nail it inside out. I’m living at this gorgeous place over the hills called San Roque Centro de Artes, where artists from all over the world come down to do a residency, teach kids, art instalments, etc. It’s run by Daniel, who was with me in Cumbaza for the ceremonies, and his wife. Daniel has literally shown me the light a couple of times in the last month, especially since i’m blind at night . There’s a gorgeous cat here, that Daniel brought with him from Cumbaza, and Arco, the white lab. I’ll be here till Monday. Then another 10 days at Colores, and back on the road post that. Can’t wait to climb some snow-capped mountains, or hit up an oasis, or just go surfing again.

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Free Falling

On the last day of our three week stint at Sachaqa Centro de Artes in San Roque, we took the 25 ft plunge. We’d come to this place a week earlier, but nobody had the balls to do it. So we decided then we’d be back in a week. You know, mentally prepare for it.

It was time to honour ‘the pact’.

I was shit scared.

But that was nothing. I have a video of Dan posing like this for fifteen minutes, only to finally decide he’d come back another day to try again.

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FIFTEEN MINUTES! Over 2 GB of data on my memory card. Sean’s face in the back says it all.

Then, as i climbed back up that cliff for a second attempt, i felt my left hand lighter, like something was off. And then i saw four rings i’ve had for almost ten years now, had gone underwater. Just like that, slipped off, to the base of the river, probably a few hundred meters downstream already. I searched for them frantically, given i’m more attached to junk jewellery than i am to people. Or maybe the rings reminded me of people from different phases in my life.

That’s when Orly said, ‘time to let it go’. I jumped again, this time with no rings.

Time to find new rings.

If you’ve liked my posts, show me love with hugs and/or donations over at johnnybizzle.bandcamp.com; also pick up free tunes while you’re there.


Time is an illusion

I mentioned Rich being a yoga instructor, tattoo artist, designer, ayahuasquero, painter.

He’s a world more than that too.

Last night we sat under the skies at night, at his favourite spot, the lake. Many beautiful songs later, in the midst of the sounds of the frogs and insects and the billion melodies that mother nature could offer us,

he asked ‘How are your feeling brother?’

‘I don’t know… a million emotions.. I wish i could be in this, feel this… forever.’

‘Well. In some ways, you are here forever. Time, being an illusion and all…

You’re here now. You were here yesterday. And you’ll be here tomorrow.’

An hour must have passed.

‘I have to go get my camera’, I said.

And he went,

‘Take a picture with your mind. Cameras can’t capture this.’

So I did. And when i got home this morning, i tried to rack my failing memory to recreate it.

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Thank You Rich. Brother, voice, messenger, healer.

Thank You Universe.

Thank You.

Only love and gratitude.


Epitaph

If you really must challenge the devil, you gotta knock at his door.


Critical Filler II

‘There’s always a party waiting to happen. Out here the only two constants are the constant bullshitting and the constant party. They come running like dickey birds looking for bugs on a hippo’s back.’

– Stephen King, The Stand.

Reminded me of Bombay.


Cracksieve.

While Pierre, me and the rest of the crew were behind the bar, Manuel, Isaac & Antoine had their own parties in their dorm. Manuel came to me every evening with a huge glass and asked for ice and coke, gave me a hit of his spliff, and headed back to the dorm. Every night. Sometimes the first thing i did when i got off the shift was head to the room. Busy nights, i did that every 30-40 minutes. Lima teenagers can be a mind numbing bunch.

On one not-so-busy night, I got in the room to see Manu wide-eyed, hand stretched out to point the joint at my face.

‘Try this!’

2 hits.

‘DAFUQ is this?!’

‘Good no?’, Manuel.

‘UHHHH… my brain feeeels… confused. WHAT IS THIS.’

‘Yes! That’s what Antoine said too! What happened is, all my coke fell into my bag of weed. I tried a lot to separate the mixture, but after 2 hours I thought what the hell, just roll and smoke the mixture.’

‘So this is essentially a crack joint?’, I took another hit.

‘Exactly! Crack joint! We didn’t want to throw away the whole mixture. Too much to waste.’

‘Why didn’t you use a sieve?’

‘A what?’

I went to the bar, came back with a sieve and waved it at his face.

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‘A sieve, Manu.’

‘PUTA MAAAADRE! MIEEERDA! Leave this here please.’


Poncho and Pierre.

Wyatt bought a poncho. If you were an 18 year old Colorado boy traveling across South America, i guess you’d do the same. It looks hilarious though, when all of us are down to our minimums, dude bobbing his head to the tunes playing in his beats by dre, huge poncho sweeping the floor, walking around the bar like a P.I.M.P… leaves us all silent for a few seconds.

‘Wyatt, how did you find us?’, Eliana, trying to fill out her forms and all those multiple choice questions that marketing types usually fill out.

‘Just walked in from the beach.’

That’s not among the multiple choices so Eliana frowns.

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When i got to Mancora last week, i had no roomies at the hostel. In fact, the entire hostel had only 3 people living in it. Gabrielle, Lisa, and me. Pierre joined us 2 days later, the same day Wyatt moved in. Gabrielle and Lisa, the couple, shared a dorm. Gabry was the bar manager, and Lisa worked the bar too.

Soon Pierre and I took over bar duties as well. So we were the only 4 people at the bar, making drinks for ourselves. Eliana’s the manager of the hostel, and the staff includes Rosa the chef, Rosa the cleaning lady, Fiorella the cute day receptionist, Isaak the night receptionist, and Percy the bouncer/security. Every alternate woman in South America is a Maria, btw.

Three days later, Gabry splits for Ecuador, and Lisa leaves in another week. So, Pierre and I get promoted to bar managers.

A decade ago if you’d told me i’d be bar manager at a beach hostel resort in Mancora, Peru, i might have given you the benefit of doubt. But if you’d told me i’d be at work before 9 am every day, i’d have called you a lunatic. It’s true though. I do the morning shift cos i can’t seem to sleep beyond 8 am anymore. This is a far cry from the last decade that i was working… waking up any time between 10 and 11 am, sometimes 2 pm. I have actually managed to shock myself this time.

Up by 8, dive into the pool, grab an awesome breakfast of omelettes and fresh juice that Rosa seems to pour a lot of love into when she’s cooking for me, and I’m ready for the day. My shift starts at 10 and ends by 3. But i hang around at the bar until 1 am cos this is actually the best place in Mancora to hang out, The Point Hostel. We get visitors every day coming in for our happy hours, food, books, pool, pool table, volleyball, ping pong, beer pong, poker, champions league screenings, weekend football… People from all around the world, most of whom don’t know where Bombay is. But when you tell them, they have a look of shock on their face like ‘HOW DID YOU GET HERE’.

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Pierre’s a 22 year old French boy. He reminds me a lot of Bhatia. Of course you guessed French when i mentioned his name earlier, i hope. Filled to the brim with sarcasm, wry humour, rude towards most people, smokes pot all day, pissed off if you disturb his ‘Dr Who’ sessions, seems like his folks baptised him with a vat of LSD…and generally just French. He keeps weighing the kittens under the bar every day and updating me. I’ve told him a hundred times not to touch the kittens but he won’t listen.

Holy shit Bhatman, Bhatia should’ve been born French.

Lisa’s here another 2 days, and then it’s just him and me managing this bar for the next month. Basically, we manage each other. As i type this out, he’s actually sitting at the bar filling out a joint.

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When the whole conversation (‘meeting’) of taking over as bar managers was going down between Eliana, Pierre and me, i thought why not… free room, free food, 40% off at the bar for the rare occasion i feel like drinking. Yup, i’m a changed man.

Eliana read us a sort of contract. One that mentioned how to behave with guests, how not to be drunk at the bar, not to do drugs at the bar, not to give free drinks for sexual favours, not to have sex at the bar, etc. Pierre was most concerned about the being nice to guests bit.

‘I can’t be nice all the time i’m working, eez jest a warning. If they come and talk to me when i count drinks or making accounts, i weel not be nice. And exactly what drugs are not allowed? Are you paying me’

‘Of course, bar managers get paid.’

‘Oh, ok, i can be nice then. You should have said at the begeening that you  pay me.’ Then he whispers in my ear, ‘You ok with that?’.

‘Yeah’.

‘What’s that?’, Eliana.

‘Nothing, eez jest a meeting within a meeting. Ya, we’ll do it.’

Next week, this resort will be full till the new year. Fingers crossed.

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