2) Watching two stray puppies do battle over a goat’s head — gnawing at the skin, the gums, the brains — at the lesser burning ghat. A body glowing in front of me. Sunset. I noticed the dogs only after I’d been accosted by a swarm of tiny beggar children, one of whom was absolutely adorable (and knew it). That beggar child might have been four years old, too young to even ask for rupees; she asked for paise. She hit me in the back when she realized, finally, that I wasn’t going to give her any money. Ran away.
It was adorable.
The puppies were eventually pushed away from their prize by an adult dog. Adult dogs are much more effective at ripping apart goat heads than puppies are, let me tell you.
All the while, cremation. The stench of burnt flesh. Thinking about life and death. And dying.
3) How did I remember your name? I’ll tell you how, Mowgli. It’s because I stayed next to a guest house called Mowgli once, or maybe I was going to stay at one or some shit — doesn’t matter. Point is, I couldn’t for the the life of me figure out how to pronounce it until you came along and told me. Or, until you told Aliya. I remembered your name because I hadn’t known how to pronounce it, because you had a crush on my girlfriend, and because she told me that you can sing.
4) Good to see you again, too.
5) Fucking in front of an open window.
6) Waking up at dawn every day, walking the length of wherever I end up going — sunrise over the Ganges, over the holiest river in Hinduism, from the holiest city in Hinduism. It’s covered in piss and shit, Varanasi is, more so than any other city I’ve visited in India. It’s beautiful and hideous. But mostly beautiful.
Especially at sunrise.
8) Chai-wallah-man with Aliya. Best chai on planet Earth — and I should know; I drink about ten a day. Chai-wallah-man had pictures on the back wall of his chai-alley-hut of a muscular man striking various poses and with a very prominent mustache that looks exactly like the mustache chai-wallah-man currently rocks, were chai-wallah-man 30 years younger. I inquire as we depart:
“Uncle, is that you?”
Here he coughs — loudly, lengthily, and unapologetically, all the while nodding. Finally he catches his breath. “Yes, yes. Me, me!” indicating the photographs. “Very young, very strong.”
8) There is no number eight right now.
9) (I love you.)