It is noon on the first day of February at Om Beach, an only mercifully inconvenient distance from the holy town of Gokarna. The hammock on my porch sways limply before me, my laundry overhead. Beyond, the giant leaves of banana trees and palm trunks scaffold the sky. To my left, i hear a recording of a lilting Indian song and the funny dismayed chatter of the corvids. To my right, a rooster crows, and the sound at the edge of the ocean laps around the concrete walls of this row of simple rooms. One of the young Indian men who tend this place is sweeping debris from the dirt paths with a hand broom of fine sticks tied together with twine.
What i’m noticing keenly, though, is the empty space where a neighbouring hammock had hung. My East German friend left this morning, packing it with him for 150 rupees extra. I’m having a wistful hour. Sometimes meeting another person feels like discovering some incredible country that you would have wanted to visit, had you even known such a place existed. Don’t pity my sadness. I only feel it because i did enjoy such an awesome glimpse into the beauty of a person. May i be blessed with many variations on that theme.
Such are my thoughts when up walks an Englishwoman who asks if i like spliffs. As a matter of fact, i do. The woman tells me that her party is leaving the country. She donates me her bag of grass and hash (or “charas” as the latter is known around here). The grass is typically cruddy and full of seeds, but the charas, she says, is wonderful. I rock with glee in my hammock, giggling over how quickly nature swoops in with new gifts and surprises–a little chin-up medicine. I’m less excited about spliffs, which i’ve smoked in excess already, than about the fact that the kit literally just landed in my lap.
My co-American Jules finally gets out of bed and joins me in a seaview section of the restaurant hut for brunch. We roll a fat one, with a lesson for me in crumbling hash, and proceed with our discussions of past, present, and future. A small Indian boy walks up to the restaurant and thrusts his strings of flowers between the wooden slats. I buy a garland for 10 rupees. When was the last time i wore a necklace of fresh flowers? They smell wonderful and feel good, too.