I hired three tuk-tuks to take me
the eight kilometers to the outskirts of Kathmandu and the vast slum area where the Twin Towers were located. The second tuk-tuk
I made go completely in the wrong direction, and had the third tuk-tuk drop me about a kilometer away, just in case I was
being followed, and walked the rest of the way, making sure I went through the sprawling slum area, a labyrinth that not even
the local police could fathom.
The Twin Towers, so called because there were two, but not really twins; one twelve stories,
and the other fifteen stories, when there should have been maybe a dozen or more, but the slum dwellers, for whom they were
originally intended, decided, en masse, they were not going to live in them, when they were told they would not only have
to pay rent, at low income rates, of course, but pay for water, and electricity too. Why would they do that when they were
not paying any rent now, and they were already, albeit illegally, hooked up to the main power line, and were getting all the
electricity they wanted for free?
A third apartment block had been started, but work had stopped on that, and plans
to build more were abandoned.
The Twin Towers had been officially unoccupied for almost
eleven years now, and were likely to stay that way until they either slowly crumbled away, or demolished
to make room for more slums. They were garish, streaky pale pink, because the painters had painted them in the rainy season,
and the wet paint had run; concrete blocks, on the edge of the slum area, with a handful of squatters, on the ground,
and first, and second, floors, still hooked up, illegally, to the main power supply.
We had taken over the top three floors of the fifteen story concrete block, reasoning
that, if there were police raids, they were unlikely to check the top floors, because the elevators were not supposed to be
working, as there was no official power supply, and, so far, touch wood, they hadn’t.
were six, and called ourselves The New Radicals, had been in the building for almost eighteen months, though I’d joined
only four months ago.
I negotiated around the garbage, and other rubbish, in the entrance hall, mostly broken beer and wine bottles, used hypodermic
syringes with needles still attached, and dog shit, or, at least, I hoped it was dog shit, pressed the elevator button and
waited for it to come down, clanking and whining.
This is where I lived, most of the time, writing, drinking often, and other things occasionally. The other five were, apparently,
three boys and two girls.
The oldest was Marissa, almost ancient at twenty-six, a 'avant-guard poet', and 'mother' of the group. What made her
stand out, from the very day she arrived, so I was told, was she avoided sex, even when she was drunk, and
refused to be touched ‘down there’.
Then, one day, boys being boys, and totally smashed, they decided to get her over it, and gang-bang her, and that’s
when they discovered Marissa was a man. They were good-humored about it, and I guess she was relieved it was out in the open.
So, that left just two girls, myself and Alice, a tall, blonde, Canadian girl, staying in Nepal without a valid visa, nineteen
years old, and into sculpture, made from old tires, cardboard, and metal junk such as car fenders and wing mirrors, and
some of it was really interesting.
Alice was the occasional, and ‘official’, girlfriend to Rahul, an intense, twenty-two year old, Indian boy,
who liked to write inflammatory pamphlets, as ‘an art form’, against the Indian Government in general, individual
politicians in particular, and, sometimes, useful tirades against corruption, poverty, and police brutality, in India.
Then there was Deepak, the 'deep thinker', twenty years old, who didn’t really do anything, except get drunk, smoke
hashish, and clean up the place, and, sometimes, cooked for us, when he wasn’t totally ‘out of it’, which
was pretty often, but just liked being around us.
The other boy, Mark, eighteen, a self-styled 'freewheeling bohemian', from Goa, a painter, and a good one too, had commandeered
the apartment above us, on the top-floor, as his studio. He had a mattress on the floor up there, and we’d had some
wild times on it, and so did Alice.
The elevator arrived, and clanked and whined all the way up to the fourteenth floor.
We had two bedrooms, which we all shared, a small living room, sparsely furnished
with whatever bits and pieces we’d been able to find, a kitchen and a bathroom, and for five hundred rupees, Nepali,
the only expense we had, apart from food, personal hygiene necessities, alcohol, and hashish, we got the water-carrier to
fill up a huge water tank on the roof every week.
All of us, except Deepak, managed to get money from somewhere, but he was happy, and considered the money the rest of us gave
him, occasionally, as payment for the work he did, occasionally, in the apartment.
Everyone, except Mark and Alice who were probably upstairs in the studio, Alice ‘modeling’ for Mark, greeted me,
in their own way.
Marissa came over and kissed me on both cheeks.
'Where have you been sweetie-pie?’ she asked.
'Not doing anything you’d want to do …’ I said.
‘Oh …’ she smiled ‘Is that subtle sarcasm, or a wry witticism?’
Rahul, writing something at the table, looked up, grinned, nodded, and then went back to his writing.
Deepak was sprawled out on a mattress he’d got from one of the bedrooms, obviously stoned, just smiled vacantly, and
probably thought I’d been there all the time anyway.
I went into the bedroom where I kept my clothes, and changed into a looser top, and jeans, and thought, a little, about Jack.
He had come from a different world,
bringing strange perfumes from a distant land, offering me juice-filled bites of luscious fruits I had, many times, dreamed
of and imagined, but, until now, they had remained a girlish fantasy.
Some of the things he’d said went over my head, other things I partly understood as if a deep memory had been touched,
and others, simple when he said them, went to the very seat of my soul.
‘Always remember …’ he said ‘You are not a human being, having a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual
being, having a human experience’
Yes, but how?
I’d always yearned, as long as I can remember, to discover, and explore, the part of who I am that I saw in films, documentaries,
and had heard about, from people who had been to such places, like Alice, and others.
I’d seen father win fifty thousand dollars, in one evening, at Baccarat, then lose it all again; that was where the
money was, in the Casinos, here in Nepal, and would give me the freedom to discover, to explore, to taste the fruits, smell
the perfumes, see and hear the sights and sounds, of other worlds, and Jack, like a knight in shining armor, had brought,
or rekindled, that flame.
He was, or had been, a professional Blackjack player, won hundreds of thousands of dollars, and he could help me do it too.
I was, or intended to be, a writer; he was, or had been, a spiritual teacher. There was no conflict; money was just a tool,
but an important tool.
But flowers grow from seeds, and trees have roots, and I had no money, right now, other than the few thousand rupees I could
get from father; but I had hope, and faith, that, if the universe had already brought to me the one who could show me how,
it would also provide the means to do it.
Alice, and Mark, were back when
I went in; her face a little too flushed, and her hair a little too neat, not have been fucking him, and Rahul was too
engrossed in his writing to notice.
'Hi ...' she smiled at me.
'Good t' see y'all ...' said Mark.
'You writing tonight?' Alice asked me.
...' I said 'I'm not sure ...'
'Well ... thought we might do something a lil more irritatingly conventional ... and throw a wild party ... a really
wild party ... and get drunk ... really drunk ...' she winked at me '... and see what happens ...'
'Damn good idea ...' Deepak suddenly focused his attention 'Damn ... good
idea' he said, and then sank back into stoned oblivion
'Rahul ... ' she looked at him, then 'Marissa ...'
'What?' Rahul looked up, slightly irritated.
'A party ... fun ... you know ... FUN!' she said.
'Okay ... okay' he said, then went back to his writing.
'I'm up for it ...' Marissa said, then looked at me 'Sweetie pie ...'
'Sure ...' I said 'Why not ...'
At fourteen, I was, of course, the
‘baby’ of the group. They’d all had more experience of life, so far, than I had, but, sometimes, I wondered
what we were really doing, what we believed we could actually achieve, and where we were going.
Where would we all be in, say, ten or fifteen years, from now; still in a crumbling, concrete apartment block, doing the same
things, saying the same things, and still believing in it all? But, they didn’t seem to be concerned about that, and
it was dismissively brushed aside as ‘baby talk’, and I wouldn’t worry, or even think, about ‘stuff’
like that, once I was ‘really into’ changing public opinion, and therefore, the country, meaning
I had to be ‘more radical’ that’s all, and that would come with experience, and a ‘deeper understanding’,
of the basic roots of injustice, corruption, and abuse, by our leaders, because ‘a fish rots from the head down’,
and we were here to ‘make a difference’.
What difference, they didn’t really explain, but they were happy, doing what they were doing, and everybody had to do
something, and the drinking, drugs, and sex, were part of being radical, in a moribund, blind, and repressive, society
We were a ‘fresh wind of change’ that, one day, society would thank us for, and future generations would speak
our names with pride. It was inevitable.
The party was in full swing, the
music loud, all of us drunk, then, at about nine o’clock, the Doc called, asked me, in Hindi, so I guessed Jack was
there, when I was coming, and I said in about fifteen minutes, which, of course, was impossible as it would take, in the evening
traffic, at least an hour, even if I left right away, but I was in no condition to go anywhere, so said fifteen minutes just
to avoid an argument.
Marissa did a sexy dance, better than most women, I thought, and Alice took off her top, and bra, sat on Rahul’s knee,
and encouraged him to suck her nipples. Deepak staggered over, with a half bottle of beer spilling in his hand, to get a closer
look at Marissa dancing, saying ‘Yeah, baby … yeah …’ then tried to dance with her, but staggered,
fell over, and sat in a heap in a corner, drinking the rest of the beer, and repeating ‘Yeah, baby … go baby …
I danced with Mark, his hand inside my top, kissing my neck, because he couldn’t get his hand inside my jeans. He was
cute, very good looking, and I guessed we would end up in bed later, but then Alice came over and whispered she was going
to use one of the bedrooms, with Rahul, and Deepak, and miracle of miracles, Marissa wanted to watch, and there was no mattress
in the other room, don’t forget, she said, and off they went.
Mark pulled me onto the mattress Deepak had brought from the other bedroom, and needed help to get my jeans off. I was totally
drunk, and probably wouldn’t remember any of this in the morning, so why not, and, anyway, we had to sleep somewhere.
He was having trouble getting hard, as usual when he was drunk, so I played with him, and sucked him, a little.
‘Did you know Marissa’s started doing it …’ he said.
‘Started doing what?’ I asked him.
‘This …’ he said ‘With Rahul …’
It wasn’t going right, for either of us, so we just cuddled, then, suddenly, Mark was asleep. He lay, in my arms,
breathing heavily, and I hoped he wasn’t going to puke, which he did, often, when he’d had too much to drink,
Then I fell asleep.
When I awoke, Mark had, apparently,
already gone up to his studio to work. Alice was bright, and full of good cheer, but the apartment was a mess, so she happily
went about clearing up, leaving Marissa, and Deepak, and Rahul, asleep.
‘How was it … for you, last night?’ Alice asked.
‘Nothing happened …’ I told her ‘What about you?’
‘It was nice …’ she said ‘You ever had two men, together?’
‘No …’ I said ‘Not yet …’
'It can be really exciting ... ' she said 'I think Mark was a bit embarrassed …from what he said … you
don’t feel up to it now, do you … just to make him feel better …’
‘No … ‘ I said ‘I think I need to sleep all day …’
‘Okay’ she said ‘I’ll go up later …’
Marissa, and Deepak, and Rahul,
didn’t surface until late afternoon, all with hangovers. I’d been writing, and Alice had gone up to see Mark,
so I decided to claim the bedroom and sleep.
Alice could drink, and fuck all night, and still be up with the birds in the morning. It was a gift she said;
sex, lots of it, gave her energy, made her creative, and she’d done some of her best work, after an all night sex session.
It was early evening when I woke,
ate, showered, put on a pretty floral top, and a different, but still very short, and sexy, skirt and got a tuk-tuk to take
me to Casino Everest.
Doc wasn’t there, and Jack gave me three one hundred dollar chips. I changed one for three one thousand rupee chips,
and ten one hundred rupee chips.
‘The Doc asked me if I was giving you money to gamble’ Jack said.
‘What did you say?’ I asked him.
‘I told him, no, of course’ he said ‘It’s not his concern anyway’