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 Darryl Cherney Music 

Green Bubba (Conclusion)

Where I'm kidnapped by barbers

Where I meet the Dali Llama Against My Will or...

Some People Call It Karma but it's Snot


"Go ahead, Green Man, break the clay cup on the ground. It will bring you luck." So said Raju, the sitar and silk salesman, tour guide and con man. As I smashed the unfired tea cup on that stone street in Varanase, India, I learned perhaps my fifteenth lesson of the hour. We don't need styrofoam and we don't need garbage cans to get a cup of tea "to go."

Raju was taking me all over to buy silk, to buy batique, to buy whatever he could con me into wanting. Only later I would find that his bargain places were charging five times what everyone else was. But for now, I was engrossed in the culture-shock therapy of discovering a place I had always longed to go to: India.

With the cows and giant-horned buffalo and bicycle rickshaws and motor-rickshaws and camels, goats and elephants careening by on every side of the street; with entourages of somber men chanting loudly down narrow streets carrying corpses over the heads; with every shop keeper and child of the street trying to drag you somewhere to buy something; I had to admire the determination of Sabrina the Swede. Amidst massive sensory overload, Sabrina could only get a visual. Otherwise, she was deaf and dumb. She couldn't hear the hustlers haranguing her. She couldn't answer back the rude remarks even if she had heard them. And for a flash I felt something I thought I'd never feel for such a person: envy. I envied her not having to deal with all the rip-offs and sleezeballs that were rapidly destroying my faith in the human race. But how could I envy a deaf-mute. I did. If only for a moment. But I did.

Raju had introduced me to Dr. Vargis Shastri, former spiritual adviser to one of India's vice-Presidents and Kundalini Yoga guru. "Call me Guruji," he said. "Call me Green Man," said I. The Indians always non-judgmental when listening to my tales of the Europeans gods and goddesses. I maintained my Green personae the entire journey.

Guruji's classes were okay, but it was his family that truly warmed my heart. I took an intensive class twice a day. And twice a day they fed me. I was offered free lodging (no mosquito netting or fan so I turned it down), and was treated like family. It was the only time I was able to interact with women, as well.

"We do not want to expose women to western men," Mataji, Guruji's wife, told me. "They use them for two years then abandon them. The do not take care of their families." While I wasn't thrilled with the Indian sexual dynamic, I certainly could not argue with Mataji. She was right.

After Yoga one day, I was wandering aimlessly on the Ghats along the Ganga (Ganges) River, when I was kidnapped by barbers. Most people don't believe me, but it's true. You see, all barbers are also masseurs in India, so they grab a hold of your hand, deftly crack all your knuckles, massage your forearm, twist you over onto your back, and then, along with a friend, pounce on you making you feel wonderful while they tell you that only Maharajas get two masseurs at once and your should pay them 500 rupees ($15). The going rate is actually 30 rupees, and that includes a haircut and a shave. Which I got.

Raju was starting to get on my nerves. He was following me to yoga class, insisting that he meet me every day. I enjoyed my alone time. My trip with him to the silk factory in the Islamic part of town was the last straw. The silk was overprice, the pressure to buy intense, and the infringement on my personal being annoying. Then I overpaid for silk in colors that I didn't really want. I decided to get him back.

The next morning I went to his sitar shop to have a show-down. He was gone, bathing in the Ganga. I left a note. It read:

"Dear Raju, you have committed the greatest crime of all. You have betrayed a friend. You have taken me to places where I have paid too much money. The Green Man is angry. It is not good to make the Green Man angry. I tell you now, leave me alone."

The next day, I found Raju waiting for me after Yoga Class. He hadn't shaved, his eyes were bloodshot, he looked scared and was pleading for my friendship. He wouldn't leave until I told him I didn't think he was a rip-off. I did just to get rid of him. Free at last.

After a week, Varanase was starting to get old. I was getting antsy to go to Dharmsala and try to meet the Dali Llama. I had just met a Dutchman named Marcel who lived there and gave me the lowdown. The Dali Llama was in town.

The day I left Varanase I was sick. I had caught some kind of Bubonic flu and could barely get out of bed to catch my train. I German woman, Judith, who I had met while buying my ticket a few days earlier, was waiting for me cross town. I stumbled into Dr. Shastri's Yoga Centre and asked for help. Mataji and her daughter came to my rescue. The fed me lassi and soup and shoved a pill down my throat. I think the love alone jump started my spirits. They put me on a bicycle rickshaw and sent me to Judith's part of town.

I couldn't find her hotel. What was worse, every rip-off in Varanase must have smelled my weakened state. They were hustling me for pennies just to lead me to her hotel. They were giving me wrong directions. Raju's partner at the sitar shop, who I had never met, handed me a business card tried to hustle me. I told him my train left in two hours. He said, "No problem, we've got plenty of time." The words "fuck you" started to form on my lips.

I found Judith eventually, we hailed two rickshaws and off we went. On the way to the station the two cutest kids waved to us. First, they said the dreaded, "Hellllo." And then in unison, they said "Goodbye." We were on our way.

Even the train stations have cows. The ubiquitous animals serve as organic garbage dispensers and gobble up the edible food packaging (leaves) wherever people throw it. This cow had wandered up and down the stairs and was waiting with us on Track 5.

Judith was my savior. She was the Earth-Mother herself come to take me to Dharmsala. I was very ill, and she, a total stranger, took care of me. We found our seats and immediately the beggars and food vendors paraded before us. Suddenly there was this awful horn-like wheezing sound. "Snake's coming," said Judith, matter-of-factly, and sure enough, a snake charmer passed our way, basket in hand. The open farmlands of India did pass before me, a welcome relief from the chaotic urban affair of Varanase. I played some guitar for the passengers, but mostly I slept the 20 hour ride train ride and the five hour cab ride that followed.

Dharmsala was like the United Nations. Every nation seemed represented in this small mountain retreat the Indian government bestowed upon the Tibetan refugees and their spiritual leader Not only was the Dali Llama in town, but there was a huge week-long festival. We could barely find a room, except for one place--The Green Hotel. I was home.

After three days of lying in bed, I stumbled out into town. There I met over a dozen people who knew me. Eleven from Williams, Oregon and the legendary Ponderosa Pine from Bolinas, California. Just as I had felt India's presence even before I left the states, I was now feeling the Pacific Northwest's vibration as my journey wound into its last week.

Ponderosa was an AP reporter in the 1950's who traveled Russia before it was common, and worked for both the Civil Rights movement and the Yippies as a press contact. I would ritually go over to his hotel every morning, smoke the local product, and listen to stories about how he, Abbey Hoffman and Jerry Rubin listened to Sgt. Pepper for the first time the day it came out.

The Williams, Oregon crew, on the other hand, averaged age 19 and were American style environmentalists come to help out Dharmsala's eco-education program. They were running around xeroxing things, making presentations, and although they knew and loved me, barely had time to say hello. It was quite the awakening to see how we activists really look.

As I began to feel better I realized it was time to do laundry. There was a sign at the Green Hotel that said "Laundry--this way," and pointed down the stairs. I followed it to the dead-end of a dirty stone alley. No laundry there. I walked back up the stairs and asked a local where there laundry was. He pointed back to where I had just come from. I said there was nothing there. He said, "You go to the end of the path and there yell, "Laundry!" Okay, I figure, I'll try it. So I descend the stairs to the end of the dirty alley and yell out "Laundry." Then, like magic, across the adjacent rooftop, strode the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life, dress in a red sari, grinning ear to ear, as if she knew exactly how ironic and insane the whole thing was. I had met the laundry Goddess, herself. If I had been more present I would have asked her for the answer to that age old mystery: "Where are my socks?"

So I put on some nice clothes and went to visit the Dali Llama's personal secretary for an appointment. "Hi, I'm Darryl Cherney from KMUD Radio in Garberville and I'd like to have an interview with your boss. "The Dali Llama is leaving in two days," he replied. My heart sunk. Hell, you can't even get an interview with me if I'm leaving in two days. On the other hand, as someone asked later, what did he have to pack?

I was told, however, that I could get up at seven the next day and join 600 people and touch the Dali Llama's hand for half a second. It didn't seem very appealing. So I went off to the Welfare office to seek some environmentalists I was looking for. I never found them. Instead, the office was filled with tourists signing up to see his Holiness, the Dali Llama. They joked with me and so I decided to stay and sign up. Maybe I'd get up at 7 after all.

The crowd at the Dali Llama's headquarters was segregated into Anglos and Asians. The Asians all wore their best get-ups--giant furry hats with furry boots, colorful baggy pants, home-spun blouses. The white folks, however, looked like something the cat dragged in. Unshaven, dirty, ripped jeans, matted hair, and a disrespectful attitude to match. One guy was mocking a mustache with his Tibetan payer beads. I was embarrassed for them.

The Green Man, however, was in full dress uniform. And I had brought I Tibetan prayer flag made in my home town plus two post cards of the redwoods with a simple note about their peril. I found an aspiring movie star who had also dressed nicely and we hung.

After four hours the line moved, and quickly at that. I could see the big D in the distance and knew I had half a second to make my case. As I drew closer, I unfolded the prayer flag and positioned my postcards. Then, the big moment came. I was before him. I showed him the flag, then laid it on his startled seconds lap. The same with the postcards. I touched his hand and it was over.

As I walked away I felt a hole. I hadn't been in the present. I spent so much time preparing I didn't really feel anything. A few steps down the path I felt a pull. And so I swung around. There, staring me in the face, was the Dali Llama. I met him eye to eye. We clasped our hands and bowed, never taking our eyes from each other. I felt it, walked away a second time, and without really knowing what it was, knew I had received what I came for.

Sitting at my favorite restaurant in Dharmsala, still a bit ill and with just days left to my trip, I picked up a napkin to blow my nose and left the paper in the ash tray. Indians are a bit peculiar about etiquette, and the waiter comes marching over to lift my snot-rag out of the ash tray with his bare hand. God forbid there should be anything in there but cigarette butts.

Twenty-four hours later, I experience deja vu. Same restaurant, same seat, same runny nose, same waiter. This time, however, I blow even harder and leave the napkin extra wet and spongy in the ash tray. The waiter comes ambling over, picks up the napkin, and squeezes it. It's soft and moist. What he did next was so typical of India because it was the last thing in the world I expected him to do. I mean the last. He took the napkin back down and started to wipe the table with my own snot!

Streaks of mucus formed across the formica as I sat there stunned. After a moment, he realized it really wasn't working and left to throw the napkin away, leaving me to gaze down at my own bodily fluids. Hesitantly I picked up another napkin, to clean up my snot he had left behind. I planned the newly soiled paper in my pocket. India had certainly taught me something. Some people call it karma, but it's snot.


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