- Calcutta - Auschwitz
BLAH, BLAH.... it was the new year and I had diarrhea. The Indians
were turning on the music full blast. I was taking the loss
of my Tibetan Family very hard. I was stuck with Rosie and Nanina,
a French student of Bero's and a German dharma groupie. "It's
getting worse and worse, Michael," lamented Rosie. "Ten
years ago there was nothing here. Now the Indians are destroying
this place," she sighed. But Rosie got me to a doctor.
I was saved in the nick of time. Nanina was also sick and spent
most of her time lying nude in her room. She asked me if I wanted
to fuck her. I said no. But it was Bero's appearance during
his difficult time that inspired me. He was an ox of a man,
beefy and huge. My head would swell and shoot sparks whenever
he passed me. I followed him to the stupa and sat with him inside
the giant monolith's guts; we faced a huge glowing Buddha figure.
It seemed to sit in suspended animation.
Buddhist statues pierced you with their weird trance. I began
to feel light and free. I heard the Buddha speak: CHANGE YOUR
LIFESTYLE. My rib-cage was smarting. I could feel Summer's subtle
body. It was denser than mine. She had a lot of witchcraft behind
her. "Don't get lost in a dream world with her," the
Buddha warned. "Balance your energies CORRECTLY and CONSISTENTLY,
RELEASE MORE!" I could hear the New Year crowds heaving and
barging outside. It sounded like empty bottles rolling and clanking
away. But in a strange muffled sort of way. I gazed ruefully at
the floor. Memories of Bero's frescoes flooded my mind. I saw
strange half-clad figures; they tied knots in their heads and
had deep nasty stares; these were the wrathful Maha-siddahs, the
crazy adepts Jim had so admired. I started to cry. I was disgusted
with Jim and at the same time missed him terribly. Jim's weird
legacy still haunted me. Summer was on my mind, too. Was she also
a new sacrificial victim? Was she also a victim or just another
perpetrator of the black arts? Did she abuse her powers and skid
off into an illness spiral? My head began to tingle. Bero was
getting up. A strange humming entered my ears. Bero was blessing
me, I could feel it. Now was the time to plunge into the unknown.
I took a bus to Gaya, a miserable and ugly town, dark, intense,
menacing. A medical student who had befriended me at the stupa
showed me off to his roomies. These young Indians were obsessed
with the dazzling mammon of the west. My Olympus camera and worn-out
Walkman were minutely inspected, and I was hosted to a dinner
prepared on the premises and served steaming hot. My hosts wanted
visas for the promised land. I was noncommittal.
was on my way to Calcutta. My train arrived on time in Gaya. I
was in desperate straits. I was running out of money in a foreign
land at the very start of a brand new year. My hosts were from
Uttar Pradesh and were looking for a hustle. They guided me to
my cabin and left me in a Bengali world. The screech of the train
pulled me back from my self-imposed trance. I was frightened and
now had to face KALI. The black Madonna of India, licking the
world's sins with her lethal tongue, making my movements absolutely
mad. No words, no words .... inside KALI'S mouth. I began hearing
her haunting refrain .... CHAI, CHAI, CHAI, KOFFEE, KOFFEE ....
CHAI, CHAI, CHAI, KOFFEE, KOFFEE. I looked outside my window and
saw a wall of thick haze and tropical vegetation. I could see
industrial infrastructure everywhere. If Delhi was like Beijing,
than Calcutta was like Shanghai. The train crawled into Howrah
was a monster. All kinds of noise and squalor, videos and beggars,
huge lines and crowds, touts too. I was in shock. I could not
afford a taxi and didn't know which bus to take, so I walked
across Howrah bridge. It was mesmerizing, zillions of people
and moving objects swarmed over the bridge in both directions.
The smog was astonishing, like a vision from hell. The Hooghly
river was barely visible. Calcutta was madness.
was inside KALI's belly and a monster was now shaking up and
down, first sideways, quick walking, sitting, then crossing
its legs, then uncrossing them, then getting up and rubbing
its hands, now rubbing its fly, hitching its pants, then slitting
its eyes to see everything, then grabbing me by the ribs, and
screaming, screaming. This was KALI'S song. There was no money
waiting for me at the bank. I had given my stepmother the wrong
wiring instructions. I had to contact her and start from scratch.
Money was running out and I was in a hot spot. I found lodgings
at a Theravadan temple, just in time. I plunged back into the
maelstrom and sent two telegrams.
Then I went to visit KALI for she was the queen of Calcutta.
Her face was everywhere. I found relief from the heat and noise
in the unfinished subway system and zoomed down to Kaligut.
Here KALI'S blood lust was satisfied. Priest touts showed me
the sacrifice altar where goats were killed every morning. I
poured water and flowers over a shiva lingam, a kind of stone
penis, and said prayers for the family. I swished around some
incense and got slammed for a donation. There was red paste
on my forehead.
cry of ravens was everywhere. Beggars roamed in every corner smelling
of strange purification. I thought about Brown Eyes. KALI knew
how to work with the elements, with blood and water. Here I was
exactly one year to the day since my final puja at the Burmese
place. I could taste Summer's honeysuckle breath. The world was
in turmoil. The hard-liners were gaining ground all over the world.
Exotic nickknacks and fast food absorbed my attention as I walked
back at night. Men pissed right on the street. Smoke was everywhere.
I had survived my first day in Calcutta. KALI was laughing and
taunting me, then making love to me, she was now my consort for
this nightmare part of my journey. I was really protected.
- 02 - 03
contents of this site © Finberg Books 2000-2004 by Michael Arthur