Like Mexico City, Kathmandu, Nepal,
is probably the most polluted city on the fucking planet, and a lot of the dwarf like Nepalese wear surgical masks, the imp
men at night looking like potential muggers, and probably are.
The girls might not be the ugliest females you’ve even seen but they’re fucking close runners, with heavy,
mongoloid, features, but they fuck just like anybody else, and, if they look too bad, you can always throw a blanket over
their faces, but, god, they are ugly bitches.
It was, before the Maoists took over, the only
officially Hindu country in the world. I bet you fucking ignorant ass holes thought it was India, right?
India is officially a secular country, but most Indians are Hindu, and the shrimp like Nepalese are not.
I love India and detest Nepal mainly because it’s people are so fucking ugly, and the place is falling apart
with big fucking pot holes in the road, and when they even have a sidewalk, or a pavement, they’re uneven and you have
to watch every fucking step you take or you’ll break your fucking neck, and the only reason I go there is the
I guess it was the former
head-up-his-ass King that decided Nepalese citizens are not allowed in the Casinos, and I like to think its because they’re
all so fucking ugly they might scare off all the wealthy Indians and Thais, both good looking people, but, to give the guy
a little credit, its probably because he didn’t want them gambling away the few rupees they earned, and thought their
money was better in his pocket as he was sitting all day in his palace playing online Casinos, and needed money for that.
they get in, sometimes, or the wealthier ones do, occasionally having a police raid, throwing them out. Most of the female
dealers, and hostess’, will go to bed with a customer, for anything from $500 up, with a condom of course, but as I
can never get on with a rubber jacket, can never get one on, and wouldn’t pay $1000 for a fuck anyway, and, as these
girls earn little more than $200 a month, for a ten hour shift, six days a week, I don’t blame them. I guess most of
them figure that three months salary for a night in a five star hotel, with a free breakfast thrown in, getting your ass fucked
all night, isn’t to be sniffed at, and, anyway, most of the clients are older Indians, and Thais, and probably wouldn’t
last all night.
So, here I am sitting at one of the Blackjack tables,
in the very early morning, betting one hundred dollars, sometimes raising it to two hundred, and, occasionally, to three hundred
dollars, counting cards, and chatting to the Doc, eighty four years old, the only other player at the Blackjack table.
won sixty five thousand dollars from Casino Rad, and Casino Tara, in less than ten days, which boosted my bankroll to a very
healthy one hundred and fifteen thousand dollars.
grey beard and long grey hair tied back with an elastic band, meant to look as if I was the world’s oldest hippy throwback,
wearing Indian clothes, smoking and coughing a lot, and drinking too much vodka and orange juice, because it’s free.
Not crazy, eccentric.
Only poor folk are crazy, the rich are just eccentric, but, then, rich folk are just poor folk with money, right?
The old man was a retired Doctor who had settled in Nepal because it was more economic for him and there were no Casinos
in India except a boat off the coast of Goa and not at all to his liking because you had to fucking queue to get on and once
on, if you ran out of money, or the game was going badly, you couldn’t fucking get off until it docked.
at Casino Everest the Doc, it seemed, was a familiar figure, a small but regular player, liked or, at least, tolerated despite
his sometimes abrasive manner and occasional rudeness.
noticed I often won and made a point of sitting next to me, confident enough to add his own one or two hundred rupee bet to
mine and asking for advice when betting on his own.
Now he asked about splitting tens.
“They say you can split tens if the dealer has a five or six” he said.
“Fuck that’ I said, coughed, and then went on “Nobody who knows the game ever splits tens, unless
you’re counting cards …’
“Why?” the Doc asked.
“A twenty is better than ten” I said “You have a 66% chance of winning the hand, so why throw it
away on two unknown hands? Don’t rely on the dealer busting either, if you end up with two bad hands. That happens only
42% of the time, and, anyway, 62% of the time you’ll definitely end up with two bad hands, and what do you do if you
get tens? Split them too? Why not? If it was the right fucking thing to do on the first hand, it must still be the right thing
to do, right?”
The Doc grunted.
“Hmm” he said, then “I have a young friend, who needs help” he said “She’s fourteen,
but pretends to be eighteen, and she could use some advice”
I’ve always liked the early morning,
having made friends with it on my death bed, though once inside the Casino only my five thousand dollar watch, a gift
from a crazy but beautiful American nymph in Las Vegas, many years ago, and far more useful in a Casino than just for telling
time, told me it was early morning as no Casino in the world had windows or clocks.
Time is non-existent here, as is the world outside, and if the Casinos had been able to ban watches as they did anything
that might alert or help the player they would, smiling, as they do when they say ‘hello’ and ‘how are you
today, sir, ma’am?, but so far none of them had found a way of doing it, though I hadn’t totally abandoned the
idea that one day they might.
“They don’t want you aware, of time, or your attention elsewhere” I told the Doc.
Many of the players had been playing longer than perhaps they had ever done anything else in their entire fucking lives
and most of them with total absorption.
“That, and the intensity of the situation, the money on the table, the spin of the roulette wheel, or the roll
of the dice, focuses their attention, their mind, on the now; and an acute, conscious, presence emerges, such as they hardly
ever experience in any other way, or any other situation, except maybe mountain climbing, or race-car driving, where the slightest
lapse of attention might result in death” I said.
“If they could stay in that state, moment by moment, every day of their fucking lives, it would mean the end
of all their self-created dramas, anxieties, fears, pain and suffering, and we’d have a totally different fucking world”
Nothing that happened in a Casino surprised me anymore, certainly not the ingenuity of the General Managers, the Floor
Managers, and the Pit Bosses, and their partiality for their wealthier customers, the forelock-pulling, and all the rest,
in favor of the big-spenders, the Whales, of the gaming world.
The fat Thai was still betting a thousand US dollars, and more, a hand and being watched by at least a dozen staff,
and raging at the dealer with every loss and tearing up cards and throwing them everywhere while his captivated watchers smiled
and had he not been a Whale six of them would have dragged him out of the Casino and accidentally kicked and punched, him
on the way out.
But not a Whale.
They were a much sought for and protected species, hunted carefully and fed well when caught, and pampered, and the
competition among the Casinos for such a prize was intense.
The fat Thai was louder than a full table nearby, itself making plenty of noise. It was easier to be a Whale in Nepal
where you needed a bankroll of only a hundred thousand dollars or so instead of the several hundred thousand, or millions,
of dollars needed in the USA.
The Doc though a reasonably good player tended to go with what he called ‘the feel of the cards’ rather
than the inviolable laws of probability and that was no way to win money at the only game in any Casino that could be beaten
I told him and he was virtually throwing away the only advantage he had.
But he was pleasant and on a few rare occasions
humorous though known to be a little cantankerous and, at times, downright rude.
It was nicer this time of the day, quieter, and no drunks,
or families with kids.
Suddenly a torrential outpouring
of obscenities came from the lone Whale, obviously losing more heavily than he’d anticipated, tearing up the cards and
throwing them and the rest of the deck everywhere, then handfuls of coins, some hitting a waiter and a stray customer.
watching staff did nothing but stood smiling as the Thai Whale stormed out of the Casino and throwing crude epitaphs left
and right as he went.
.“He’s not too happy” I said “Good for the cleaners though”.
The Doc was surprised and a little
disgusted when I said that I had been a spiritual teacher, and a writer, until my illness got too bad, and said how could
a wealthy Westerner, he’d noticed the five thousand dollar watch, and the size of my bets, be a spiritual teacher and
of what religion because he didn’t care for religions or their followers and believed instead there was nothing up there
and that death was the end of it all and anybody talking religion was mouthing nonsense and mealy-mouthed and sanctimonious
fools and he came to places like this to get away from them.
not religious, at all” I told him “Being spiritual isn’t the same as being religious, in fact, religion
is the very antitheses of spirituality, pre-programmed and packaged, which authentic spirituality isn’t, and there are
very few experiences in life more immediate, and directly connected to spirituality, than what happens in a Casino”.
cleaners were putting some of the stools upside down on the empty card tables and cleaning out the ash trays and picking up
the coins the huge fat Thai had thrown and the senior black-suited staff were drifting about after the brief excitement looking
restive and bored.
of them, a man in his thirties, a Floor Manager, came over to our table, smiled broadly at the Doc, and extended his hand,
in greeting. “Good morning, Doctor. How are you, this morning?”
Doc shook his hand, and said “Get that damn plastic cup dispenser fixed!”
Floor Manager nodded.
“It will be replaced, Sir. Don’t worry” he said, then looked at me “Your good name, Sir?”
he said, and extended his hand, with a particularly wide smile.
“Jack” I said “Jack Black”
The Floor Manager
looked at me, taken aback, then “Really? Jack Black?”
I smiled at him.
“No. I made it up” I said.
The Floor Manager was still smiling “I see, and what is your business?”
“I’m a professional hit man” I said.
“Really, Sir? How interesting. And are you here on holiday?” he asked.
“No” I said “I’m never on holiday” I told him, and left it at that.
“Oh” the Floor Manager was lost for words, then “Well, I hope you have a good time. Can I offer you
some refreshments? Coffee, sandwiches wine?”
“No thanks” I said.
The Floor Manager smiled again and went over to a high desk at the center of the Pit.
The Doc turned and saw a young girl hardly more than a schoolgirl in a very short denim skirt, and very obviously had
no bra under her thin top, heading for our table, smiled and held out his arms.
She was dark, really beautiful, and very sexy, clearly not Nepalese, and it seemed to me as if she was standing still
and the room with its tables, players and staff, were moving past her and she was smiling a fresh early morning smile eyes
black as night and suddenly she was there, the room turning around her as she hugged the Doc and kissed him lightly on both
cheeks his arms round her then turned to me her smile closer larger as she reached out her hand to shake mine.
type of girl that makes a man’s head spin.
We sat, the Doc moving one place, so
that the girl was sitting between us, telling her to listen to my advice because I knew the game, and could help her. She
was still smiling as he talked and she placed two small piles of one hundred rupee chips on the table, her small bag on her
knees, then smiled at me and asked if this was my first time in Nepal and I said no I’d been here several times but
many years ago and in this Casino when it was inside the Everest Hotel and it was nicer then and she said yes she remembered
that but she was just a child then and with her father who had been bringing her into Casinos from the age of three so she
knew all of the games quite well and liked Caribbean Stud Poker and Roulette but preferred Blackjack and asked me if I was
staying at the Everest taking it for granted I was and did I have a nice room
and how long was I staying in Kathmandu but the Doc got her attention before I could reply and he told her again that I could
help her play better and she must listen to my advice and she would make money.
She put one hundred rupee chips on each of three places and the Doc threw up his hands with a look of despair and told
her it was a mistake as she now had to win two of the three hands and that was a sure way to lose money fast so I said it
really didn’t matter if she played three places at once or three separate hands because she would still win or lose
the same amount, just a little faster, and a better thing would be to play two places with the bet split between both because
although she might not win or lose as much as playing one place and it wouldn’t change the house edge, the volatility
was less, and her money would last a little longer and she could stay longer and have more fun.
She seemed please with that and started playing two places, one of her hands, I noticed, quite close to mine on the
edge of the table, then she squealed delightfully, sexy, showing small white teeth, when she won both places, and I thought
she was going to kiss me on the cheek and touch my hand but she did neither and, instead she put the two chips she had won
on top of the two neat, piles of one hundred rupee chips and the Doc put his arm around her shoulders and smiled at her and
said didn’t I say Jack would be lucky for you and she smiled at both of us and the room turned slowly around her.
After two hours I was winning almost
ten thousand dollars. The girl had increased her bets to two hundred rupees and a quick calculation showed that she was doing
almost as well as I was in this session and I told her so and she asked me what was the most I had ever won and I told her
I’d won over four hundred and fifty thousand dollars in three weeks in the Casinos on the Cambodian border and
barely escaped being arrested on trumped up charges of fraud and in Sri Lanka I’d won over one hundred and twenty thousand
dollars in ten days and I had a partner then, Claire Marie, and five children, but that was then and she had moved on and
no I told her we were no longer in touch and she said that was sad and she supposed I still thought about Claire Marie and
the children of course and I said yes but it didn’t make me sad anymore because it is as it is and to be sad about the
past or to worry about the future was a waste of energy that should be used in the present.
She said yes she knew something about that because her mother had died, when she was three years old, and her father
missed her mother terribly, and though she loved her father, these days, she spent as little time with him as she could, sometimes
days and nights, with her friends, or in the Casinos, which was why she was here so early and how did I win so much money.
I leaned closer to her and touched her upper arm and whispered that I was a pretty good card counter and that was really
the only way to consistently make money at Blackjack and you could win a lot but it was risky because although card counting
wasn’t illegal no Casino would tolerate it and ban you or worse if they discovered you were card counting and if you
couldn’t stay you didn’t play and if you didn’t play you wouldn’t win.
She said it sounded fun and exciting and her eyes sparkled and I could smell sandalwood on her and if she wasn’t
doing anything else would she like to come back to the hotel and have a coffee or something and we could talk more but I didn’t
actually say that and instead said yes it was fun and I could teach her a simple card counting system she could learn
in a couple of hours and although it wouldn’t be as effective as the one I used it would turn her game around and at
least make it a break-even proposition.
She said okay but not today as she
had friends to see but how long was I staying and I said I wasn’t sure but maybe a month or so and then she picked up
her chips and dropped them into her bag and said she had to go but she would be back in the evening and would I and I said
yes and asked her what time and she said about eight-thirty and she left leaving the scent of sandalwood behind and I hadn’t
even noticed that the Doc had gone.
I played a little listlessly for another half an hour, thinking about her, and
wondered why the Doc had left without saying anything, then cashed in my chips, walked slowly up the hill to the hotel,
thinking about her, and went up to my room.